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21 Ocean Princess Cruise Reviews

It was announced that the Ocean has been sold to Oceania for a complete overhaul. It is really in need of an update. As one reviewer noted, "It seemed tired." Apparently Princess decided to stop any updates some time ago. ... Read More
It was announced that the Ocean has been sold to Oceania for a complete overhaul. It is really in need of an update. As one reviewer noted, "It seemed tired." Apparently Princess decided to stop any updates some time ago. Sabatini's shows "Italian Restaurant" and the Internet Cafe was never incorporated into the signs. Decor is over the top 1980's (swirls on squares on weaves on stripes). The same pros and cons existed on this trip as for all Princess cruises. The staff was friendly, attentive, approachable. For price, our Rome to Miami 18 days was hard to beat (be sure to stay a week in Rome before hand at the Princess hotel). Entertainment was some of the best we've been offered on any ship. The cabin was comfortable if dated. But the old problems remain. Guests are pestered to pose and buy pics, purchase packages for wine, water, ice cream, coffee and buy ridiculously expensive excursions. We team up with other couples, rent a taxi guide and get a personal tour for 1/3 - 1/2 the cost. The food was disappointing (especially considering other cruise lines). Passengers felt that charging a fee for "good" food was insulting. Despite the fact that only one specialty restaurant was open each night, they were mostly deserted. (Our table mates had to return their meal at the Steak House.) We loved the Trivia especially the obvious ignorance of the staff who apparently have never read a science or history book. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
The Ocean is a small intimate ship (670 or so passengers) whose size I love. It gives you a chance to get to know some people. With passengers decks on 6-7-8 and restaurants on 5 with the buffet on 9, you can always walk the stairs if you ... Read More
The Ocean is a small intimate ship (670 or so passengers) whose size I love. It gives you a chance to get to know some people. With passengers decks on 6-7-8 and restaurants on 5 with the buffet on 9, you can always walk the stairs if you don’t want to wait for an elevator (there’s never a long wait). Unfortunately this ship is rather worn out and has been sold to Oceania. I’m sure they will bring her back to her original glory. I do love these smaller ships. Having said that – the one area Princess should fix is their vegetarian options in the dining room – they are pretty awful. One night there was not one vegetarian option other than the everyday offering of fettucini alfredo which was good but you can’t eat it every night. One night the option was ‘lentil cakes with fried eggs’ – please!!! This is supposed to be a luxury cruise. This is advice I give for every cruise review: bring your own laundry soap (a few of those tablet kinds) and softener sheets for the dryer – you’ll save a lot of money. Second, do your research ahead of time about the cruise tours – they are outrageously expensive, rushed, and often conducted by people who know very little about what you’re seeing. Whenever possible, use local tours. Third, avoid the on-ship internet (.79 a minute and it is slow as molasses) – another outrageous expense – you can find local places with free wi-fi. Overall I really enjoyed this cruise and would recommend it to anyone but perhaps not on Princess - see my comments about each port stop below. Amsterdam: We docked a fair distance from the city (although our last cruise we docked much closer) but there is a free shuttle bus to Stoledijk train station – then to Central Station and walk to the center or Dam Square. There is also a tram from the station which is much cheaper. There are lots of canal cruises etc. available in the square - same as the cruise tours but much cheaper. Here’s a tip if you go to the Van Gogh museum – you will see long, long lines of people waiting for tickets. Don’t get in line – walk over to the Rijk museum kiosk and buy a timed ticket – less than a five minute wait for us to get in. Beware of taxi’s – they are extraordinarily expensive – much cheaper to use the tram system. You could pay for a walking tour and get a lot more out of it but do your homework first and compare what you get from the ship vs what you get from a local tour. Stockholm: A 30 minute walk from the dock. They use Krone but will take Euro’s (at a bad exchange rate). We took the tour believing we wouldn’t need to use money so didn’t change anything into Krone. City Hall was a beautiful building where the Nobel laureate dinner is held each year. We also visited the Vasa museum – a 226’ warship that sank on it’s maiden voyage – perfectly preserved. A smaller exhibit there should not be missed – it’s a ‘time line’ room showing in film a narrated description of what was going on in various parts of the world at the same time – fascinating history and we didn’t have enough time to spend there. The tour was very rushed – not time to eat or to shop. That’s why I hate those tours. They tease you. Tallin, Estonia: We docked about a mile and half from the city center and took the tour of upper old town and a panoramic drive. The Alexander Nevsky cathedral was a beautiful stop. We also went to an outlook to view the old city. It was a Sunday so the Dome Church was not open to us. Some good shopping. Our guide was fabulous and funny (Anneli Kritsmann-Lekstedt with Hansatours - - email info@hansatours.ee). She explained the current situation there and their distrust and dislike of Russia. She said they have a ‘love-hate’ relationship: Putin would ‘love’ to get Estonia back and they would ‘hate’ that. Their freedom came at a high price but they value it. Almost 54% of their earnings go to taxes, some of which is to support their elders. When Russia pulled out, the older folks who had been working for the Russian system lost any retirement savings – so the younger folks have to pick up that deficit – but they are more than willing to do that in order to be free. St Petersburg, Russia: I was told that if you don’t use the cruise ship tours, you have to get a tourist visa at a cost of about $330 each. That made us book the ship tours and I’ll describe those below. However, I subsequently heard from other travelers that you can book tours through local tour agencies and not pay the visa – so do your homework first because these tours were about $200/person per day – ouch! And as always, they are ‘hurry up and wait’ and completely rushed. Day one we did the City Drive, Hermitage Museum and St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Lots of walking so be prepared. Breath-taking beautifully buildings – ornate – covered with gold and very much in excess – no wonder they had a revolution. Our guide was very knowledgeable but also very old-school- she kept referring to the ‘glorious soviet revolution’ to the point we were starting to giggle every time she said it. Day two: Catherine and Peterhof Palaces – more gold, more excess – more beauty, yes. Our guide that day was a young woman who was somewhat flippant and very funny. She commented on the older guide (who also was on this tour for half the group) and said “As Marina would say “the ‘glorious’ soviet…..etc.” she clearly did not agree with the word ‘glorious.’ Our younger guide also commented somewhat disparagingly on Putin but we didn’t pursue it. On the ride to Peterhof you will see some soviet era building that is pretty depressing. Also a lot of new residential construction – large towers of apartments. There will be a few single family homes on the way - notable for their rareness. St. Petersburg is undoubtedly a beautiful city – the architecture is amazing. Riga, Latvia: DO NOT MISS this city- if your planned cruise doesn’t stop here – take another cruise. This city is spectacular. Small but overwhelmingly beautiful. Their art nouveau architecture is not to be missed. I can’t even begin to explain the beauty of this city. We also toured the old city. You can walk off the ship and cross over the highway into the old town – it’s very close. I have photos of these buildings that no one can believe – they are that beautiful. When Russia took over they nationalized these buildings and five to six families shared each large apartment – that meant sharing one kitchen and bath – can’t even imagine that. Klaipeda, Lithuania: Docked about a 15 minute walk to the center. We took the tour “Klaipeda, Old Town, Amber Museum and Palanga.” Klaipeda is not the capital – it’s a small harbor town – not very interesting. Palanga was a five minute stop – very disappointing. Amber Museum was interesting but don’t buy their amber jewelry – it’s cheaper on the street for the exact same things (except for their expensive stuff which you can’t find on the street). Another very rushed tour. Copenhagen, Denmark: One of my favorite cities. Docked about a 20 minute walk to the center. We had been here before touring so this time we just got ourselves on the hop-on hop-off bus (although it wasn’t even necessary unless you haven’t been there before). Small shops right at the dock if you forget something – but they are more expensive of course. Tivoli is just a big amusement park – the inspiration for DisneyWorld. Our favorite place is Nyhaven – just walk around and admire the canal, the boats, the people, the café’s = the ‘life.’ It is a wonderful way to spend a day. Dover: Beginning and end point for this cruise. Spend a few days here if you can before or after the cruise. Dover Castle is a fabulous place to tour – especially if you admire Eleanor Aquitaine – you will learn about the Plantagenets - Eleanor and Henry II – and their brood of horrible kids. Sit for a photo in the reproduction of their thrones. During WWII there was a hospital built in the tunnels there under the White Cliffs – also military meetings rooms etc. Very interesting if you’re not claustrophobic (just the getting in part – once you’re inside you don’t notice it). Also don’t miss the Roman Painted House – “Britain’s Buried Pompeii” – ok it’s not that big or impressive but it is certainly interesting and worth seeing. Discovered during an excavation for building – it is the remains of a hotel almost 2000 years old. Open April through August except on Mondays – run by volunteers so call before going : 01304 203279. You’ll also learn about the many more discoveries in ancient Dover. So overall, the ports of call were good to excellent. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We arrived home after an enjoyable cruise on the Ocean Princess. However several of the concerns I had with my cruise on the Island Princess surfaced again. These mainly concerned the poor service in the Panorama. Once again the ... Read More
We arrived home after an enjoyable cruise on the Ocean Princess. However several of the concerns I had with my cruise on the Island Princess surfaced again. These mainly concerned the poor service in the Panorama. Once again the servers wanted to charge me for chocolate milk and/or hot chocolate at breakfast (and other meals). It was only through the intercession of one of the head waiters that I received (once) chocolate milk without charge. I stopped trying after that. The same head waiter assured me that I would receive chocolate milk in the dining room, and I did. There was a lack of staff, especially in the afternoons returning from ports. We had to get our own beverages including coffee. Breakfasts were also poor and most days I had to obtain my own drinks...not really a problem except that as we poured our drinks a server suddenly appeared on the scene, said that was a “no no” (obtaining our own drinks), tried to pour the beverages and insisted on carrying them to our table. Service on the morning of debarkation was particularly poor. The staff that was available were often chatting among themselves and seemed oblivious to the passengers. The appearances of flies in both dining room and Panorama was a rather unique event, never having had that problem before. This was reported to the head waiter both orally and in a written notice to reception. The head waiter, Daniel, did talk to me about the situation and its eventual resolution. The meals seemed to be better on this ship, although the menus were the same as Island P, and thus I was able to do a comparison. The only really bad meals were the braised beef ribs which were very fatty. This was pointed out and shown to the head waiter. The roast duck was very tough. The Beef Wellington was superb. Most of the appetizers and especially the cold soups were very good. I couldn't fathom why bananas were perfect every day on the Ocean P. While on the Island P we found them badly bruised or just plain rotten virtually daily. On our first night in the dining room I requested a change in table seating. Our table was near a window and the light bothered me. Secondly, I was at a table with five elderly women and I would have liked a better distribution of males and females. I am still waiting for my request to be okayed or denied, except I am now off the ship and it doesn’t matter. I would have expected some thought would be put into the seating arrangements making up tables with couples instead of simply putting people from the 4000 cabins together without regard to who or what they were. We were not told in advance of the change in port docking for Amsterdam and this caused a fair amount of inconvenience for us as we missed appointments with others in that city. Excellent service was provided by head waiter Daniel, assistant cruise director Hannah, and port consultant Deborah. In fact all the entertainment staff were charming and friendly. The port tours in St Petersberg were terrible. Perhaps it was my fault for thinking they would be as good as ones from a previous visit to St Pete's. The canal tour wasn't a canal tour, but mostly a trip along the Neva and back so we didn’t get a circle tour, but a return trip repeating sights. We deserve a refund on that one. During our previous visit we went on a circular tour on the canals with no repeats. The subway tour was also bad going to only three stations. A previous tour featured more than half a dozen stations. That also merits a refund. Had the excursions been better described we would not have taken them. There was also confusion as to whether or not we would be allowed off the boat on our own in St Pete after the tours. The shipboard consensus was we couldn't get off the boat But I discovered on the second afternoon that several people had gotten off on their own and I tried, was successful, and wandered around the city for awhile. Unfortunately it was too late in the afternoon to do anything really good. The customs men had told me I could go ashore and wouldn’t have any problems returning. Having destination maps and overviews for the various ports placed in our cabin at the beginning of the cruise rather than daily was a big plus and helped in our final planning for port visits. Despite the poor venue and lack of good sight lines, the entertainment was a bit better than Island P (for the same shows). The Russian folk dance troop and David Copperfield were far and away the best shows we had. The International show on the final evening was also good. Once again the music for the most part was too loud, but better than Island P. I still haven't been able to figure out why loud is better. The choreography and production numbers plus other individual acts left a lot to be desired, although the energy and vitality of the six dancers under poor circumstances is to be commended. Our cabin steward placed a blue Princess tote bag in our cabin. But when there are two people carrying items to different places a second was required. On the Island P I had no trouble getting one for myself and my companion. Here the steward absolutely refused a second bag. So I had to obtain another type of bag for carrying things around. Bad policy, or stubborn steward? As on the Island P there was an “umbrella” problem. It was raining heavily when we left the ship in Dover, but protection from the elements was sadly lacking....no staff with umbrellas at all, and we and our luggage were soaked. Protection from elements should be better. To sum it up, a good cruise, good ports, mostly very good cuisine, but erratic and too often poor service. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Just returned from a 14-day trip to the Shetland Islands, Iceland and Norway. This cruise was hard to review, because so many things were variable. PROS: 1. Staff were great. Everyone from the captain on down couldn't have ... Read More
Just returned from a 14-day trip to the Shetland Islands, Iceland and Norway. This cruise was hard to review, because so many things were variable. PROS: 1. Staff were great. Everyone from the captain on down couldn't have been friendlier or nicer. They went a long way to cover up some negatives that otherwise might nave been glaring (see CONS below). 2. Small ship is nice. 674 passengers (capacity is 777) meant that it never felt crowded or overwhelming. 3. Breafast in the Panorama Buffet was always nice. Plenty of choices, food was always hot and good. Great staff in there. 4. Itinerary was amazing. Shetland Islands are really worth the trip. Going all the way around Iceland gave us a very good feel for the people and the country. The two stops in Norway (Skjolden/Sognefjord and Bergen) were mostly good, though Skjolden was much nicer. 5. Obstructed-view cabin was decent size. Plenty of storage space. 6. the desserts and the breads in the Panorama Buffet were uniformly good. This was a good thing, since many nights, there wasn't much else worth eating in the buffet! 7. Princess singers and dancers were generally decent and sometimes good. they were always entertaining! CONS: 1. This ship has already been sold to Oceania, and it was obvious that Princess is doing just enough to keep it going to the end. In many places, her age is showing. The ship reminds me of an old lady that's dabbed on extra makeup, hoping to hide the years, and fooling only herself. 2. Food generally was at best average. If it weren't for breakfast, I'd say the food was poor. Lunch was usually OK in the buffet, but dinner was rarely good. I never go to formal dinners (there were 3 on this cruise), and after looking at the menus, I skipped the dining room four other nights as well. This meant that I had to eat in the buffet half of the time, which was (other than 2 of those nights) really bad for dinner. The selection was not great, and (like the dining room) if you don't like seafood, you're pretty much out of luck. Very poor choices, poorly prepared, bland, often cold food, or overly dry from sitting in the steam trays too long. It was also obvious that what they couldn't push for lunch (or dinner the night before) was often recycled into other dishes the next day. If it wasn't good today, it won't be any better tomorrow, Princess! The only really memorable dinner in the dining room, in fact, was the Italian night. The highlight of the Chef's Special Dinner menu was the sorbet: after that, it was pretty appalling. It was clear that Princess is not putting any money into this ship: just enough to keep everyone fed, but nothing interesting, adventurous or expensive. 3. Cabin cleaning. My steward was very nice, but apparently the stewards were told to only change bed linens every four or five days. My sheets were stained when I arrived, and I had those same linens for nearly a week. I think the sheets were changed twice in the 14 days. The stewards also have huge areas to cover, which means that room cleaning and "refreshing" didn't take place very often. 4. The cabin bathroom is very small and not well designed. For example, you cannot sit on the toilet normally: you have to sit at an angle, or else your knees are halfway up the wall! And of course the shower is not only very small but you cannot turn or move with encountering those clingy shower curtains. 5. The casino is a joke. Here was another evidence of Princess' early retirement of the ship. There are maybe 30 slot machines, of which 23 or so are quarter machines. The newest machine on board is at least 15 years old. Everything is packed into a very small area. There is one place where you have to sit right up to the machine, so that people can get past you to the other areas of the ship. The casino really is a wasted space: if you're not going to have a good casino, don't have one. But Princess is clearly more interested in sucking every available penny out of the passengers than in providing a modern gaming experience. These are machines that should've been retired years ago, but it's obvious Princess is just filling up the space and sending newer machines to other ships. 6. Another real weakness for Princess is the "destination expert." The lady on this ship is really bad. Her lectures are some very poorly-organized slides, with notes that were clearly googled on the internet and "cut-and-pasted" together. If I had a dollar for every time she said "I think you can go here" or "I think that's what it's called" or "I think.....", I could've paid for my cruise and then some. If she was an expert, I'm the next Emperor of China. I had done a fair bit of research before the cruise, and it was appalling to see how badly-organized this woman was. I thought I could've done a better job, and many times my ship mates agreed, as I was often asked by strangers about different places we were visiting. The comment heard often on excursions was, "I wish that lady had told us about this!" I can't say that I have ever had a destination "expert" on Princess that was much of an expert, but this one hit a new low. How she still has that job is a mystery to most of us. 7. The lounge entertainment was painfully bad. Two in particular deserve special note. The piano player in the Casino bar spent a lot of time telling us about his meth addiction (and various other addictions as well), his lifestyle, and his life in general. According to him, this is the 55th ship he has been on. I pray desperately that he will never be on another ship with me. I had to sit though his "show" because I was with friends in the casino. The "stories" are bad enough: then he starts to sing and the pain really begins. He may have once had a decent voice, but off-key singing and growling seem to be his current forte. There is also a duo (piano player and singer) that frequent the Casino Bar that should be avoided at all costs. He is a good pianist, but she can't carry a tune in a bucket. I literally avoided Deck 5 in the evenings, simply because of her caterwhauling. Boy, she was bad! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
due to an accident they say on the freeway it took us four hours vs normal three hours from London Heathrow to get to the ship, just in time for a glass of bubbly and then put on our life jackets. Room 8038 was a mini suite, nice ... Read More
due to an accident they say on the freeway it took us four hours vs normal three hours from London Heathrow to get to the ship, just in time for a glass of bubbly and then put on our life jackets. Room 8038 was a mini suite, nice location, nice depth to the room, with the usual coach and two chairs, more than enough storage/drawers, climbing over the bathtub to take a shower was ridiculous and I not that old nor that short. entertainment-magicians were great, comedians were o.k. irish singer good, (flopped in his second show) princess singers were not good, but their dancers were. captains party for everyone and then suite members was excellent, seriously they stopped in some ports where there were only 250 residents, why.... there was nothing to do or nothing to buy, a waste of our time really.... the fact that you can just wear a nice pair of levis/jeans with nice shirt and perhaps a blazer or sweater in the dining room saved on a lot of clothes, some people still did 200% on the formal nights but we found that a pair of blacks pants for the ladies with a couple of dressy tops did just as well. food- breakfast buffer was fine, lunch buffet was fine, do not order a veggie burger as it looked like "barf" my husband said when h brought it to me, we threw it out, mexican buffet vey good, chinese/sushi buffet was good, indian was so so, best pizza was the thai and he only made it one night, dining room food was so so, quality dropped, steaks were like you would order at a coney island... we were in seafood territory and so disappointed in the lack of choice, tiger shrimp looked like something one night out of a can, desserts were o.k. variety of ice cream, internet too expensive and did not work half the time so you spent 10 minutes trying to connect, best spot, follow the crew when they disembark the ship and they will lead you to free internet.their side trips were too expensive and one of them to the funicular in bergen sweden was 159.00 for two people, we thought it was a bus trip and then to the tram,but it turned out to be an all walking trip... you could do it yourself, just walk there and pay for the tram, one side trip we booked up to the hengifoss waterfall the guide never made it up, think he was too old and walked about 1/8 of the way... he was more interested in stopping on the way down in two or three places so that we could spend money, seriously nothing to buy,other buses on this tour did not make those stops...health club, too small and no one monitored the treadmills only supposed to be on them for 20 minutes some days people were on for over an hour until I gave them a dirty look. disembarkation was easy, they showed some moves at night but hey no popcorn which we were used to on other princess ships, lack of things to do on board.....everyone was very polite and accommodating, but we remember the days when we got a daily newsletter in our slot every morning to apprise us of what was happening in the u.s. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
April 3 - Jun 5, 2015 Asia/Africa (62 days) Ship condition- (rating: 4) - old, small, cabin small, air conditioning is terrible, - no theatre. All shows are in sitting room style. So if you sit in the back, you are ... Read More
April 3 - Jun 5, 2015 Asia/Africa (62 days) Ship condition- (rating: 4) - old, small, cabin small, air conditioning is terrible, - no theatre. All shows are in sitting room style. So if you sit in the back, you are blocked by other people's head. - Library is big, quite a few books. - dining room is ok, tables are a little bit clouded. - just one small swimming pool but not clouded. - walking track is on the tenth . Nice and cool early in the morning Entertainment: (rating: 4) - much to be desired. - ship dancers young, pretty and energetic. - invited South African dance group..pretty good - a lot of individual performers, ie singers, comedians, magician, Musician. A little disappointing except Claude Eric. - not much space for activities. Used up almost every little place Available. Ports and Tours: (rating: 8) - ports are excellent since most of the ports we have never been To. Especially Dubai and Cape Town. - tours are unexpectedly good. Though expensive but worth it. Good organization. Food: (rating: 7) - breakfast had a lot of choices but every day has the same thing. No change, since it's a long trip (62 days), I have to get creative And mix and match different food. Luckily it has congee every Day which serve me well (I can add my own ingredient. - sea food and steaks are cooked right, much better than Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. - a few theme day, ie Japanese sushi, Indian curry, Mother's Day Brunch and desert days are pretty good. - fruits are terrible..honey dews and cantaloupes are tasteless - watermelons are sweet but it's all gone after the first two weeks Never see them again. - papayas are mostly good - no garlic bread Services: (rating: 8) - dining rooms services are generally good (some are Exceptionally good, others are not quite up to standard.) - our cabin steward is excellent, can't complain. - cruise director tried his best. - the rest of the crews are quite up to standard. Overall: (rating: 7) - the reason we booked this cruise is for the ports. Almost all of the ports we haven't been to, especially Dubai and Cape Town. We are quite satisfied on the whole. We really enjoyed the tours ( every port is different), the relaxation on the ship. The free internet and clothes washing. The meeting of friendly people from different countries on and off the ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We joined the Ocean princess after being asked by Princess to consider swapping cruises,(overbooking??) we had been booked on the Dawn from Sydney to Rome .Maybe it wasn't such a good deal? 48days instead of 32 on a smaller ship, I ... Read More
We joined the Ocean princess after being asked by Princess to consider swapping cruises,(overbooking??) we had been booked on the Dawn from Sydney to Rome .Maybe it wasn't such a good deal? 48days instead of 32 on a smaller ship, I would not do it again. While the Ocean Princess is still a lovely ship, in spite of her age, I felt that it was too small for this cruise. Only 1 MDR and the Buffet ;the Steakhouse and Sabatini's were only open on alternate days, and not always then, which made dining choices limited. Only one Show lounge meant that on the 2nd half we had the same shows repeated, and there was no alternative .The daytime entertainment program was boring, too many repeated activities, films and lectures. The Ent. Director was a waste of space, no personality and we felt a definite sense of strain between the Director and the rest of the cruise staff. The shows were ok but improved at the end, possibly due to being one dancer short until a replacement arrived during the 2nd half of the cruise. It was obvious that some of the entertainers were not happy. The Library was excellent, good selection and great place for peace and quiet. Tahitian room had great views, we enjoyed the Trivia and dance classes. It should be NON Smoking!! Front desk not up to standard, some of the employees had a "not interested "attitude, we found only one who seemed to know what he was doing and wanted to help. We were not impressed by the Shore tours lecturer, her information seemed to come straight off Google and she had a boring voice. Food. We mainly ate in the MDR at night and the buffet at breakfast and lunch. Food was good and plentiful, but repetitious, our wait staff (ALL of them) were wonderful. Professional, helpful, friendly...not enough good things to say about them. They helped MAKE the cruise for us. I am having ongoing communication with Princess about the medical care so will not say anymore. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
This was our first experience of Princess Cruises, we were attracted by the itinerary and the opportunity of the " smaller ship" experience. There were pros and cons to both aspects but we certainly would not agree with the ... Read More
This was our first experience of Princess Cruises, we were attracted by the itinerary and the opportunity of the " smaller ship" experience. There were pros and cons to both aspects but we certainly would not agree with the contention another contributor on this forum that the ship is broken down and should be scrapped. Pluses: Absolute ease of embarkation and disembarkation; prompt transfers ashore by both tender and when alongside a dock; stateroom and balcony of acceptable size - well maintained by our steward who responded very promptly to our needs; knowledgeable help from the manager of the computer centre; friendly staff at the "front desk"; small but good boutiques. Not so plus: the fare in the main dining room was of highly variable quality, maybe 2 nights out of 8 passed muster as being enjoyable; at least one bar-tender (pool bar) was clearly out of his depth and seemed to have little undestanding of what customer service and product knowledge meant; the woman manning the future cruises desk was downright rude and condescending - after enduring her patronising manner we terminated the meeting (and I should say we were/are seriously in the market for another cruise within a year). On other topics: For the first time ever in our cruising experience we encountered a charge to shuttle passengers from the dock - into Dublin, and from Rosyth to the nearby railway station. At US$8 per person each way we felt this was over the top. In the case of Rosyth we found local taxis were no more expensive and certainly quicker. On one of our two sea days we were confined inside due to the weather - no fault of Princess of course. But we found it almost impossible to find a quiet spot where we could read a book or just catch the passing parade .... the Tahitian Lounge was given over to an excercise or aerobics class where the music and shouting was sold loud if could be heard two decks away; the commentary from a wine appreciation class in the main dining room was also being "broadcast" (very loudly) in an adjoining bar area. When we did finally find a quiet spot we were told in no uncertain terms by one of ship's photographers that we had to move as he wanted to set up his equipment there for photo sessions which were due to start some three hours later! Are the public areas for the benefit of the paying passengers or the hired hands? Overall we enjoyed the itinerary and the various ports of call. But other factors outlined are likely to turn us off Princess Cruises in the future. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
The Ocean Princess is one of the 7 or 8 Renaissance ships that were sold after the 9/11 meltdown to Princess, Azamara and Oceania, and it looks like not much money has been spent by the Princess parent company over the years in ... Read More
The Ocean Princess is one of the 7 or 8 Renaissance ships that were sold after the 9/11 meltdown to Princess, Azamara and Oceania, and it looks like not much money has been spent by the Princess parent company over the years in retrofitting its public spaces and staterooms or modernizing its decor. It is 670 passengers - Princess' smallest vessel. Having said that, we have become used to the grandeur and beauty of the Oceania 1250 passsenger, larger ships Marina and Riviera, Seabourn's 450 passenger ships and even in years past to Silversea 290 or 350. 1250 is about our limit. We have also been on the QE2, Regent and HA. So we have sailed and have lots of comparisons with all these ships with higher end ships. We took this cruise because it fit our vacation schedule and had the circumnavigation of the UK itinerary we wanted - most of all a visit to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The latter we have to say was the high mark of the cruise. And the price was very attractive, in comparison with other offerings in the Northern Europe cruise market this summer among the smaller vessels we prefer. So a lot of people took this cruise because the fares were so reasonable. Real value cruise, and there is nothing wrong with that. There were not a lot of big spenders on board, and the proof of that is that the two speciality restaurants - one Italian and the other a steakhouse - each not bad - could not both be opened the same night because there were not enough people on board willing to pay the extra $20 or $25 a person, to fill both restaurants at the same time, so these two had to alternate being opened. Two nights for one...then two nights for the other, etc. And the bars were never really crowded with people buying drinks. We saw a lot of people walking around carrying drinks to and fro, or into the dining room, which we assume they poured in their cabins from a bottle of their own that they brought on board to avoid the wine charges or corkage fees. Wines by the glass were very reasonable at prices starting at $7.50, and Princess offered many wines in the $30-40 a bottle territory, pretty reasonable, but we did not see many buyers. Unlike most of the other passengers we met who have never sailed on one of the so called luxury ships, and mingled with the different passenger mix one gets on those lines, we have had that opportunity a number of times. So we look at this ship and the other reviews we have read on Cruise Critic raving about the ship, food and service with a bit of a jaundiced eye.The cabin we had - a mini suite - was very nice, as was the bath, which seemed to have had a bit of makeover with new flooring and sink and counter the past few years. They call it a mini suite, but it is just a larger sized cabin and veranda, but for us worth the extra couple of bucks. It had a nice closet, and plenty of storage space and a couch and chairs set up. It was just below the open deck above, and we could hear people running around up there all hours of the day and night. The food was just OK in the main dining room. The serving staff tried hard, but there is a limit as to how good and varied the quality of the food can be when the revenue stream from paying passengers is not all that great. We always found something we liked on the menu, plus the standby dishes like filet mignon always available. The waiting staff, and particularly the dining room management headed by solid pro Luigi quickly recognize those who know quality, and they try to please as much as they can with special requests. Breakfasts and lunches were pretty good, but Princess, for example, saves on jams by not offering them unless you ask, and then comes a bowl they serve you direct from Tesco's or Costco's finest. Onto your plate. Croissants pretty bad. Dinner if you get there early was always efficiently served, and they tried to keep the hot dishes hot with plastic plate covers. Turkey one night was delicious. Lobster tail the one night it was offered was kind of what we expected. They tried to be imaginative with some of their menu selections and often succeeded. The buffet is not the kind of place we like to frequent no matter what ship we are on. Too much jostling, and elbowing, and just people fighting for tables, and on Ocean Princess the buffet quality was just ok or a touch below. We had only one lunch there, but that was enough.The large, oblong shaped plates passengers use, made out of plastic, kind of shocked us at first, until we saw the appetites of the people partaking in the buffet. Princess knows its audience well, and when it comes to eating in the buffet, considering the girth of so many passengers on board this cruise, who just love this stuff, the oblong plates and the volume they permit hit just the right mark. Quantity is never the issue. The food in the speciality restaurants is just a touch above OK but probably worth the extra price just to get into a room that sits only 30 or 40 people and is a cut above the quality down below, with very good service, but only one pasta dish on the menu of the Italian restaurant is a little surprising. Not too many veal dishes and the place had no Italian ambience to speak of, other than the maitre d'hotel was Italian. The formal night rules have completely broken down, and very few were in black tie or even dark suits and ties. Further the dress code of Country Club Casual in the MDR for normal dinners is never enforced. Capri pants, long shorts, polo shirts for men......just about anything goes. We saw one man with a sport jacket in the MDR only twice. Good thing I did not bring mine. This crowd just does not care about such. We saw no one turned away, when many should have been.  The photographer hawking photo opportunities and constantly in your face is there. Annoying to us and discontinued on other lines. The entertainment was definitely an A plus. A hard working group of four women and four men singers and dancers, and my wife and I have to say this was the best of any cruise and cruise line we have ever been on. Including QE2. Just amazing. and a good band too. 3 full and different production shows for an 8 day cruise is amazing. Well produced shows with tight, well rehearsed in sync choreography. Good sound system in the Cabaret Lounge, and good lighting make the shows more enjoyable. Embarkation and disembarkation were very easily accomplished, and Princess gets high marks in our book for excursions and transfers. Everybody aways likes to complain no matter the cruise line one sails on that these tours are overpriced. Universal complaint. Check it out. WE thought we got value on our tours through the ship, and we took one on our own out of Rosyth, a dismal port. Captain never seen, and same for senior officers. We heard him at noon giving us our daily positioning, but he did not have any visibility. Great crew, who work hard under difficult conditions, and mostly very nice and friendly. We did not see any Captain's table or senior staff tables for guests the entire voyage, or maybe they existed and we were just not invited. The seas around the UK were generally very calm the entire cruise, with the exception that we had to skip the stop at St Peter Port on Guernsey on Day 2 because the anchoring off shore would have been impossible for tender operations. That was disappointing, and from what I have learned quite common this year and past on this cruise with this one stop. The ship sailed very smoothly, with very little rolling and no pitching that we observed. Edinburgh was a great stop and the aforementioned Military Tattoo that night a huge success. The ship's arrangements for this via a long bus ride were first class. Too bad the ship stops at Rosyth and not a closer port to Edinburgh with better logistics to get there on one's own. Wales and Dublin also good port stops with interesting tours of the countryside. The cabins are a little old in their furniture and decor. Dark wood furniture with chipped finishes on some of the edges. Carpeting old. The cocktail table had one leg that would easily fall off if the table was moved unless i was very careful. Just old cabin style and needs complete refreshing. The cabin attendant did a decent job in keeping the stateroom clean, but the noise from the floor above was annoying. The new Princess NO-Smoking policy in staterooms, on verandas and all public areas except a few on the open deck is excellent. We observed no one violating the policy. Thank you Princess for putting the health and safety of the guests and crew first, and we only wish Crystal and Seabourn, the latter a Princess sister company owned by Carnival, would do the same to respect their passengers. We can only hope. The Princess lifeboat drill the first day of the cruise was the longest and most thorough we have ever experienced. Again, thank you Princess. The public rooms reminded us of the same rooms and layout on the three smaller Oceania ships of exactly the same vintage and design on which we have sailed, but with Oceania there is better decor, seems friendlier and it just seems not quite so old fashioned furniture and a bit depressing. Of course there is no string quartet on the Ocean Princess to entertain the guests before and after dinner time in one of the public areas as there is on the Oceania ships. Again cost control, to allow the value price cruise that this was. One thing about Ocean Princess is that there is not an awful lot to do to during sea days, and no movies shown in public areas and a limited amount of entertainment on the ship's TV system, although they did have Fox. The passengers were mostly American and British, with a lot of kids and teenagers on board from some younger families or traveling with grandparents. Even with this the average age had to be in the late 70's I would say, and, reflecting our societal problems today in general, a large number of large and very large type people. We did not find many interesting people to share our experiences with, although I am sure there were some on board. All in all this was our try with Princess. We went into this value cruise with no high expectations and so we were not terribly disappointed with what we found. We did not expect Oceania or Seabourn or Silversea or Regent, HA or Cunard or even Celebrity. We do not expect to try the Princess brand again, although friends tell us the larger, newer ships offer more, have a different clientele and are a lot better. So perhaps there is that chance. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Cruise On Ocean Princess, Honolulu to Sydney. 27 days We had booked a mini suite for this cruise and were basically pleased with the size of the room and the bathroom. The balcony was double the size of the standard balconies. The ... Read More
Cruise On Ocean Princess, Honolulu to Sydney. 27 days We had booked a mini suite for this cruise and were basically pleased with the size of the room and the bathroom. The balcony was double the size of the standard balconies. The bathroom was larger and had a bath as well as upgraded towelling. So, a little bit of luxury. Our room steward, Hector, was obliging friendly and attentive. The Ocean Princess is a small ship with about 650 passengers on this cruise. Overall the ship looks OK for a 1999 build but on closer inspection it is showing it's age. The cabinets in our room were chipped and needed restaining or replacing and the pool had serious chipping on the edges. Some of the deck furniture was cheap and poor quality and there were never enough shaded areas for people to sit in when in the hot sunshine. If you are going to sail in hot climates this must be a priority since we are now educated in skin cancer causes. The pool was small and often crowded on sea days. The food was 4 star and somewhat repetitious at dinner in the main dining room over the 27 days. The best meal was lunch in the Panorama buffet when there was a wide choice and easier to satisfy your taste buds. The Panorama buffet was naturally crowded at breakfast and lunch and often it was difficult to find a table for 4 during busy periods. There were no hand sanitizers outside the main restaurant which I thought was a failing. The evening shows were excellent, especially for a ship of this size. The daytime activities were limited and often biased towards fitness and health and beauty. Over the 27 days there was a lot of repetition in daytime presentations. Overall if you choose a small ship you will have space and activity limitations. This ship is now 14 years old and cannot compete with it's newer and larger competitors in many aspects. However there were good points and overall we enjoyed the cruise. As a final thought, when our cruise lines going to do away with adding gratuities to your onboard accounts and include it upfront in your overall price. I believe in tipping for personal services eg. room steward and waiters, and not subsidising the cruise lines' bottom line which is what we are basically doing, by paying gratuities which are shared by all staff. Ports of Call. We ( the 4 of us ) decided at the outset to do our own thing at each port of call and this worked out well, both in terms of personally seeing what we wanted to see and also saving a pile of money. Taxis and tour operators were readily available at the docks and it was easy to find a driver who would give you a tour of the island to see the points of interest. With a little research and a read of the ship's port guide we knew what we wanted to see. Nawiliwili, Kauai and Lahaina Maui. Taxis on the Hawaian islands charge $60 an hour per taxi for island tours and in both these ports we hired a Taxi Van which took 4 people comfortably. We had a list of places to see on both islands and we discussed the itinerary with the drivers before we set off. We confirmed the price and the likely time of the tour. On both islands we had tours which lasted 3-4 hours and we added a $5-10 tip per person at the end. The drivers were knowledgeable and we saw lots of beaches, waterfalls, vistas etc in comfort. Definitely the way to go compared to the ships tours. Hilo, The Big Island. Prior to the holiday I had researched private tour operators and had seen good reports on Ricky's Tours. I am happy to confirm that Ricky gave us a great tour. With a running commentary about everything, done with good humour and local insight, Ricky showed us smoking volcanos in the National Volcanoes Park, Lava Tubes, Steam Vents, Volcanic rock, Macadamia Nuts, Orchids, Turtles on black sand beaches, and vistas galore. All this for $65 per head. There is not a better bargain in the Pacific. Good on you Ricky. French Polynesia. Bora Bora. After 5 days at sea we were enchanted to arrive at this attractive island with a lot of natural beauty. This is a small island, about 15 sq miles and with a population of about 7500. There are a few shops and some market stalls and a couple of nice public beaches. We took a $10 ride to a nice public beach past a popular, if expensive bar, called Bloody Marys. The beach was white sand and coral ( wear some protective footwear in the sea ). After an hour or so the bus returned to pick us up and returned us to the dock. There is not much to see on this island so you would not bother with a tour, just enjoy it's scenery. Moorea. The next day we were in Moorea which is very close to the main island of Tahiti and Papeete. We rented a small car here for $90 including insurance since the island is reasonably large, 51 sq miles, and there is more to see. Again this is a beautiful island but you do notice that there is little prosperity and apart from pineapples, tourism is important. We went up to a local viewpoint called Belvedere and then after some more touring around ended up at the lovely Hilton resort where they were kind enough to allow us to swim at their beach. We bought some drinks at the bar and the pool attendant supplied us with towels to use. A lovely beach and if you have money and want to get away from it all this would be ideal. Papeete, Tahiti. We were unable to get very excited by Papeete. The central area was not very inviting and it all looked a bit tatty for a town of this size. Up towards the hills on the West of the town there were obviously some better areas but since the major tourist sites were to the east of Papeete we never saw these. There was a tourist office right next to the pier and some taxis and tour operators around. We took a $35 tour from here and to be truthful, it was not that great. We saw a reasonable waterfall and an underwhelming blowhole and a couple of bays and some of the countryside, The guide was poor and it was not worth the money. The US$ was accepted in most places. Pago Pago, American Samoa. Apia, Western Samoa. Tonga I have lumped these three destinations together initially, because they all shared the same type of situations. They all have a similar feel to them. The people are friendly, religious, loyal to their culture and basically live in third world environments. The major economic pluses are tourism, bananas and fish. At each port we were able to procure and bargain for taxis and have a 2-3 hour tour to places of interest culled from the daily fact sheets provided by the ship. The golden rules are check out the driver, check the taxi, does it have air conditioning and can 4 people sit comfortably in it. Finally confirm the price and where he is going to take you and how long. Generally $30 an hour was agreed and all accepted the US$. Each port had market stalls set up to welcome us and Polynesian music. Going around the various islands you will be immediately struck by the major influence the churches play in everyday life for these islanders. There are churches everywhere from all religious affiliations. Catholic, Mormon, Protestant, traditional etc. Each little village has more than one church and several meeting places. Boy! were the missionaries ever busy. The islands were all pretty enough spoilt by run down commercial enterprises. On Pago Pago we went to Two Dollar Beach which was very nice, with a green grassy area, a small cafe and a super and probably best beach on the island. There was not much to see on the island though we drove to the end of the island. On Apia we went to Robert Louis Stephenson's house and quite a long drive out to see some turtles which we fed. RLS house was definitely worth the visit with scenic gardens and $10 entry fee to tour the house. On Tonga. We were lucky to pick a taxi with a great driver who also gave us a very nice tour. Important to try and get a taxi inside the port gates. Outside the gates be careful since there are many unlicenced and dubious operators. The Royal palace was right opposite the ship and the town was pretty disappointing. We were taken to see some great blowholes and also some island children who sang for us. A nearby resort and swimming beach was very average. We also saw the Royal Tombs. A pleasant day Auckland, New Zealand. Our friends who live in Auckland gave us a tour. This is a big city where you can easily spend a day. The ship docks right in the centre of the city and there is a tourist office near the end of the pier. The best deal looks to be a Hop On Hop Off Explorer bus which takes you to the major sites for a daily fee of NZ$40 ( about US$ 32 ). It runs every 30 mins. Tauranga, New Zealand. Where you disembark the ship there was a very comprehensive tourist office set up. You can do everything from rent a car to book an all day tour. Eight of us went to Rotarua in a rented car. Very enjoyable. There are nice shops near the dock in Mount Manganui. Sydney. We got off here. There is so many things to do here that you have a fantastic choice. The dock is usually right opposite the Opera House and almost underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge, next to the Ferry terminals , The Rocks shopping area is nearby. There is a free bus 555 that goes around the central town area which leaves behind the ferry terminal. Enjoy ! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We picked this ship because it had the ports of call that we were looking for -- we wanted to either start or end in Greece and Princess was one of the few that did this. We had never sailed with Princess before and had heard some good ... Read More
We picked this ship because it had the ports of call that we were looking for -- we wanted to either start or end in Greece and Princess was one of the few that did this. We had never sailed with Princess before and had heard some good things about them and were looking forward to the cruise. Don't get me wrong -- how could a Greek Isles cruise be disappointing? It wasn't, but the ship was. Embarcation was excellent -- the staff was friendly and everything went smoothly. Our cabin was a nice size. Dinner was nice -- nothing spectacular, but not bad. The food and service were good. What disappointed me about this ship? The cost was premium, the ship was small...we knew that, but I hoped there would be quality. The entertainment was flat-out horrid. No bands so to speak. Two duos with canned background music and they sang off-key!!!! There was very little entertainment in the evening. But...what ticked me off the most was that on one of excursions...we got left after being 5 minutes late. The excursion manager could have made us happy by offering to reimburse us our out-of-pocket expense to get back to the port...or maybe buying us a drink. We were told if we had any more problems, we could go to the excursion office. IT WAS ONLY OPEN BETWEEN 5 - 7! That was our dinner time!! When I filled out an email when we got back, a Princess rep called, but she also didn't offer to try and make me happy. (We were about about 20 Euros...I know it wasn't much money, but it was the principal -- we spent a fortune on excursions1) The first day was at sea...on RC and Celebrity, they do a great job of selling liquor around the pool -- I would say that the ocean princess needs to go on a RC cruise and learn a few things. Second day was at Itea (for Delphi) not listed as a port. We went on the excursion to Delphi and the Museum...was absolutely wonderful! The guide was fantastic, Delphi was amazing. Third day was cephalonia (Argostoli) went to underground caves and lake. Was a fun thing to do especially since it was raining that day! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
A very disappointing cruise with limited facilities for a cruise of this length and so many sea days. Brilliant fellow passengers and dining table company was excellent. Cabin steward and dining room staff were excellent. Very good library ... Read More
A very disappointing cruise with limited facilities for a cruise of this length and so many sea days. Brilliant fellow passengers and dining table company was excellent. Cabin steward and dining room staff were excellent. Very good library and internet room but theatre disappointing and quality of entertainment poor although some of individual artists very good.Very small pool and noisy at lunchtime when loud live music was played which resulted in many passengers going to their cabin balcony.Shop choice and stock very limited and all reflective of a small ship which whilst it has advantages has to be weighed against many other downsides.Suspicion of Senior management problems on the ship with a sub standard Cruise Director and a Captain whilst very communative over attentive to young attractive female passengers.As always on cruise ships Tours are becoming exhorbitant from a price point of you and there is a feelling of being "ripped off".The ship acquired a severe spread of Norovirus after only a week into the cruise and still the management of the ship did not attend to what were clearly adverse hygiene issues and only started to place hand washers out and clean the hand rails some three weeks after the illness started.The fact the ship was only 3/4 full for the first part of the cruise was and had to be discouted heavily for the latter part to attract additional passengers was interesting?In future we will revert to larger ships with better entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We boarded the Ocean Princess in Hong Kong in perfect health. Within a few days, we, along with many others on board were struck down with a severe case of the flu which left me with a terrible cough I could not get rid of. The air ... Read More
We boarded the Ocean Princess in Hong Kong in perfect health. Within a few days, we, along with many others on board were struck down with a severe case of the flu which left me with a terrible cough I could not get rid of. The air conditioning in the ship was so cold it was impossible to get warm and we had to ask for additional blankets just to sleep at night. I visited the Doctor and was given antibiotics, nasal spray and an inhaler which I have never had in my life. Nothing made any difference.I felt very isolated as I could not stop coughing, so refrained from going to many activities as I did not want to pass my germs on to other people. Two nights before we landed in Singapore my husband came down with severe food poisoning which he is convinced he got from some watermelon he had on board which was not fresh. The Doctor tried to tell us he had contacted a Norovirus in Koh Samui and really read him the riot act and treated him like a small child. All he ate or drank in Koh Samui was one orange juice as he was already feeling unwell and since I had the same we are sure it was not that. We were made to feel like Lepers, confined to our cabin, had people come in at midnight to casually wipe down a few doorknobs and walls which suposedly was supposed to "sanitise" the room. We were made to wait until everyone else got off the ship then we were escorted to a separate gangplank and placed in a taxi.Within two days of getting off the ship we had both fully recovered so we are convinced that the ship is indeed "sick". I would be very interested to hear if anyone else had the ame experiences we did as we know the Doctor's surgery on board was full every time we went there. This is my foirst experience travelling with Princess and I am very wary about travelling with them again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
This cruise is definately NOT VALUE FOR MONEY I had previously sailed with Princess on a 21 day cruise to the Panama Canal, a fabulous holiday, with 5 star treatment, FOR ALOT LESS MONEY. This holiday bore NO COMPARISON. ... Read More
This cruise is definately NOT VALUE FOR MONEY I had previously sailed with Princess on a 21 day cruise to the Panama Canal, a fabulous holiday, with 5 star treatment, FOR ALOT LESS MONEY. This holiday bore NO COMPARISON. From the moment we stepped on to this small ship I was dissapointed. I felt like the entire ship needed a complete refurbishment, and when we opened the cabin door the smell was awfull. Two of the female reception staff were arrogant and rude. The entertainment was similar to a Butlins holiday camp, not a £6000 + cruise. The captain spent the entire cruise referring to the ship as his Beautifull White Lady, it was far from this, and both myself and other passengers began to cringe every time he mentioned this. So dissappointment am I with Princess Cruises that I dont think my husband and I will travel with this cruise line ever again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Two retired but young-at-heart well-travelled Britons, this was our 8th cruise but our first experience of Princess Line. We drove ourselves just over an hour to prebooked car park in Dover, courtesy bus to the ship and smooth and quick ... Read More
Two retired but young-at-heart well-travelled Britons, this was our 8th cruise but our first experience of Princess Line. We drove ourselves just over an hour to prebooked car park in Dover, courtesy bus to the ship and smooth and quick embarkation. Firstly, we would like to say that our stateroom was better than we expected and our steward was faultless. We were impressed with all the Singers and Dancers, who produced some splendid performances in spectacular costumes. The Cruise Director was friendly and enthusiastic; not so the Deputy Cruise Director, Paul, who was quite juvenile with his constant references to his alleged drinking at any time of the day or night. In our opinion the entertainers were very good, with two notable exceptions. Chris Watkins the violinist was not just good, but outstanding, and all the British with whom we discussed Bobby Dennis thought he was very poor, used extremely outdated material and not at all worthy of the description "comedian". Thank goodness another comedian, Lenny Windsor, appeared later in the cruise. There were many aspects of this cruise which detracted from our expected enjoyment, and we hope you will all take note, as Princess doesn't seem to have done! Reception - Our very first impression after boarding at Dover was the TV monitor next to the Reception Desk showing the ship nearing The "Hauge"... (sic) - not a good start. Princess Patter - Just some examples of the many errors in spelling, grammar and typography:- • Ocean Pricess • King Hakon • Taxs (taxis) • Cointreu • Proffesional (several times) • Many superfluous apostrophes • Decck 9 Aft • "..your tour guide that provided superior service...." (should be WHO) • Film with "Leonardo DiCarpio" • Tromso street map showing wrong locations, and according to the Tromso Tourist Office is 6 years out of date. • Murmansk Port Guide repeated items in Local Cuisine list, and continued with the climate for St. Petersburg - not very useful. • Gravdal Port Guide failed to inform passengers of the location of the featured attraction of the Maelstrom, neither were the tourist attractions of Moskenes and Refsvikhula even mentioned. so we had no idea prior to arrival if we could visit - even the Port Lecturer had no idea on which island they were situated and advised us to ask the bus drivers on shore. This is no way to treat paying passengers who wish to make their own arrangements. The Port Guide for Gravdal continued with the irrelevant details of the climate in Oslo, several hundred miles away. Activities As first-time cruisers with Princess, prior to booking we consulted the website and found the following:- 1. Learn about our cruises ? 2. Onboard experience ? 3. Daytime Activities ? 4. Sports ? 5. .........Golf simulator and 9-hole putting green......... Nowhere on this page was there any indication that these facilities are available only on the larger ships, nor was there any suggestion to look at the individual provisions on each vessel. How were we to know that no. 5 above does not apply to Ocean Princess? This was EXTREMELY annoying, as the mention of a golf simulator was one of the prime reasons for selecting this cruise. Moreover, after publicising the golf practice facilities, the golf clubs provided are a positive disgrace. Only a few clubs of different brands & virtually none of any use to left-handers (all men's - what about the ladies?) and the steel-shafted ones were ALL rusty. One of the Scrabble sets on board has a very torn tile-bag and an incomplete set of tiles, so is useless. Additionally, the tiles in all the sets are of an illegal design, and there is no OSW to check challenges. The Trivia quizzes are heavily biased in favour of N. American passengers. Although this would be more understandable &/or acceptable on a ship sailing exclusively from/to the USA, to use these types of questions on a cruise from/to UK, with a very large proportion of British passengers, does detract seriously from the entertainment value. Furthermore, many answers given to the questions were WRONG; we appreciate that mistakes do happen, but in these instances there was absolutely no effort made by the staff to check and if necessary apologise and emend the scores. Although all the Trivia hosts were (allegedly) English-speaking, on many occasions their mispronunciations and obvious complete lack of understanding was shameful - we would suggest that at the very least they read & understand the questions before reading them to the assembled guests. Excursions We were promised a live commentary (later to be available on ship's tv) during the scenic voyage through Magdalena fjord - disappointingly, this did not happen, and no reason was given for this omission. We had to wait till we got home to "Google" the names of the places/glaciers we had seen. Gravdal. The first lines of the Gravdal Port Guide quoted: "You've certainly heard of the Maelstrom! Why not pay it a visit?" Indeed, why not? But where is it? On one the five major islands? Between them? Out at sea? No indication at all, and when I sought out and asked the Port Lecturer her reply was, "I've no idea." As for Gravdal itself, the tour literature on board referred to this village, implying that we would visit it. Instead, all the shuttle busses went to Leknes in the opposite direction, so there was little alternative to visit Gravdal other than to walk, which we were able to do but which would have been impossible for the less able-bodied. We have been informed that one gentleman showed the trip arrangements to the bus driver and insisted on being taken to Gravdal (which was agreed) and when asking about times for returning was told that he would not be collected and would have to walk. Everyone to whom we spoke who had visited either place said that as it was Sunday there was little point in going as everywhere was closed - the timing of the itinerary proved to be a poor piece of planning. Deborah Fraioli's port lectures were, without exception, awful. Every single one was disjointed, eg. commentaries did not match up with the slide/s being shown, mistakes were made re. currency used, and there were so many "I don't know how much/when/where, etc" statements it was embarrassing. In her position, she should have found out first or kept quiet. What is the point of emphasising that the annual Geiranger mountain cycle race takes place in June (the month we were cruising) but neglecting to tell us if we would be able to see it? (And she should know that "archipelago" is pronounced "arc....", NOT "arch.....") Other cruise lines offer free warming drinks after being encouraged to be on deck in the near-freezing early hours to observe the scenery - how very penny-pinching of Princess to charge for these. Equally annoying was the $10 charge for shuttle busses - all our other cruises on various cruise lines have provided them free. After conversations with other passengers, many agreed that intelligent & interesting lectures or lessons on board were conspicuous by their absence, so there was a lot of time with nothing much to do except read or sleep. No photography classes, no Windows classes, no travel talks, no History talks - all these and many, many others, have been offered on other cruise lines. Dining • Hot and cold plates in the wrong positions in the Panorama buffet - who wants a salad on a hot plate or roast pork on a cold one? • A few people, inc. us, chose "boneless" chicken in the Bistro and all such meals contained a large bone, and when we told the waiter he just laughed and said "boneless" meant "a few little bones, madam." (We later received an apology for his attitude from the Bistro Manager.) • Sliced brown bread was constantly running out at lunchtime, and eventually after 4 days of none being available we were advised to order 3 or 4 slices to be reserved specifically for us - this is absolutely ridiculous! • On at least 4 occasions the breakfast marmalade ran out - why are the staff not trained to replenish food before it is exhausted instead of keeping people waiting while supplies are fetched from another location? • Why is orange-juice free at breakfast but has to be purchased at lunchtime? • Afternoon tea was very often a lottery for scones, jam &/or cream. Queues of people holding half-filled plates, waiting for one or more of the constituents to arrive. • For dietary reasons butter is not acceptable to many people. For the first few days margarine was also available, but for approximately the last 2 weeks it disappeared from the Panorama buffet. Shops As I collect fridge magnets of places we have visited, it would have been nice to buy one on board, as I have done on all other cruises, but the only ones available were of the "Tahiti Princess" and ones with a map of the Mediterranean, hardly suitable for an Arctic cruise. We were told by the staff that delivery of appropriate magnets was expected prior to sailing but they'd never arrived. Tokens Redemption The small area allocated for this was a shambles, and the staff had to work under extreme difficulty, with passengers crowding the tables from all 4 sides, waving tokens and shouting for what they wanted. Those not at the front could not easily see what was available; it would be far easier to display items on a long table for viewing, and then arrange a simple one-way queue. The popular items ran out in about 5 minutes so that many, including us, were unable to get items of our choice. Surely by now the supply and demand ratio is known? Also, why start the Redemption on Deck 4 at 4.30pm., exactly the same time as the last Trivia quiz started on Deck 10, as the winners could not possibly get to Deck 4 before everything had gone? We sent these comments to Princess 3 days after our return - 7 weeks & 3 phone calls later we still hadn't received even an acknowledgement let alone a proper reply, then a mere acknowledgement came. Over 3 weeks more, and a "We're sorry to read about your experiences..." letter came, but still without answers to what they're actually going to do about it. What a way to run a company! Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We booked our cruise through a cruise only agency, one that we have used for several years. We are too old and too fat to fly internationally in coach, so we usually buy our coach tickets independently and upgrade to Business Class with ... Read More
We booked our cruise through a cruise only agency, one that we have used for several years. We are too old and too fat to fly internationally in coach, so we usually buy our coach tickets independently and upgrade to Business Class with miles. However on this itinerary we booked Princess air through the travel agent because it was several thousand dollars less than if we had bought two one-way tickets each from the airline. We flew United on the outbound, and a combo of South African Air and United on the return. We flew into Singapore one day early, and booked the Pan Pacific hotel through the travel agent, who had a better price than I could find on the internet. It's a great hotel, and a real steal at $135 including taxes. Because we'd been to Singapore before, we chose to spend our 1.5 days there at the Jurong Bird Park, and the Orchid Garden at the Botanical Gardens. We were glad that we'd flown in early, and enjoyed two leisurely days. We embarked around 3 PM, taking a taxi from the hotel to the pier. No crowds at that hour, so we were in our rooms within minutes. I had assumed (wrongly) that Princess would have refurbished the ship when they changed it from the Tahitian Princess to the Ocean Princess. So I was surprised to see that the cabin showed signs of wear. Nothing bothersome, just a little tired. Our cabin steward was excellent, as they almost always are. The itin originally had 13 ports of call, but the Seychelles and Myanmar were removed before departure, reducing the number to 11, on a 32 day cruise. So nearly two-thirds of the cruise was at sea. The Seychelles was dropped due to pirate activity in the West Indian ocean, and I was definitely in favor of avoiding pirates! It was unclear why Myanmar was dropped, but it was suggested that it had to do with the tides in the river, and the scheduled times of arrival and departure. I'd visited most of the ports of call on previous travels, but my husband and our friend had not. We prefer to arrange our own shore excursions when possible. However on this cruise we only did our own tours in Malaysia, Thailand, and Cape Town. I just couldn't find reliable tour operators in some of the ports that don't have high levels of tourism. Kuala Lampur is a very modern and interesting city. We took a tour with Princess because the independent tour I'd hoped to book fell apart before we left home. In Penang,Malaysia (island) we booked a full-day tour with Mr. PG Lee, at a cost of 30 Malaysian Ringgits per hour (leepg2006@gmail.com). I especially liked the tour at the spice garden and the butterfly farm. And another fresh seafood lunch! Phuket,Thailand (another island) is charming, and has recovered well from the Tsunami, at least in the areas that tourists see. We booked a full-day island tour with Daj, http://www.independenttraveler.com/ at 1800 baht for the day, including petrol. Our guide was pleasant, and we enjoyed tasty seafood lunch at a local restaurant recommended by him. In Chennai we took the Princess tour to Mahabalipuram, to see the sea temples, which are interesting. I am a big fan of India, which isn't everyone's cup of tea, as proved by the reaction of many of the ship's passengers who had never been there before. IMHO one needs to experience the countryside in India, to offset the impact of the large, teeming cities. It's a place that grows on you with the length of stay. But cruises just can't provide that option. Mumbai, with its 14 million people and terrible traffic is also shocking for most Americans. We elected to take the tour which visited three different temples. India's various religions make it a very interesting place to travel. After several days crossing the Indian Ocean, we arrived in Oman, an ultra-conservative Muslim country. Muscat was small and bright and shiny clean, after India. Female passengers are advised by the Tour Consultant onboard to cover their legs (all of them), their arms (all of them), and also their hair if they plan to visit the National Mosque. A number of ladies just couldn't believe that this applied to them, so they were refused entrance unless they could cover themselves appropriately. The National Mosque is incredible...don't miss it. At the Souk we purchased Diet Coke for $5 a six-pack. Cheaper than $1.95 each onboard! Other people brought on soft drinks and water for their cabins. We next sailed to Dubai, where we had two days, since they had extra time due to the cancellation of two ports. This was very helpful. A lot of passengers had dinner ashore the first evening and we were ready for some individually prepared food. It's a fascinating city, because everything is so new. The question of whether or not they will be able to repay the bailout money and what will happen if they cannot looms large. In the meantime, construction is at a standstill, and my husband observed that you could probably buy a cement truck pretty cheaply (and all other construction equipment). We took the Princess Desert Safari Tour, which put 4-5 passengers in new Toyota Landcruisers with a skilled driver, who drove us into the desert for some dune riding. Fun! We also visited a camel farm, and had lunch at a desert camp where camel rides were available, and a belly dancer entertained. It's a great tour, although at noon it's well over 100 degrees, which is why the tour is usually run in the early evening. Some passengers mentioned that they had booked the evening tour online, and they picked them up at the ship. However you'd have to know the ship's departure time if it isn't a two day stop. On the second day we took a Princess tour of Dubai-Old and New. It was a standard city tour. One of the highlights was a small boat transfer across the Dubai creek, where we visited the spice market and the gold souks. I bought saffron in the spice market, which actually came from Iran. The jewelry in the gold souk is absolutely overwhelming! It all begins to look the same after the first three store windows. (Drum roll). And then we had seven days at sea. That's just too many on a small ship, in my opinion. We had a terrific Cruise Director (Sammi), but the lack of space limits the number and variety of activities that can be arranged. Our previous cruise was a Holy Land itin on the Royal Princess, which is a sister ship to the Ocean Princess, and we loved the smaller ship. But it was a port intensive cruise, with only two sea days out of eleven, which we all needed after our days on shore. On this long cruise I read about eight books on my new Kindle (perfect for traveling), saw at least six movies (the selection went downhill at the cruise progressed), and attended several lectures by the onboard guest speakers. But it was challenging to find appealing activities when the Princess Patter arrived each evening. We called on the port of Nosy Be, which is on a small island off the northwest coast of Madagascar. We elected to take the Princess tour to the smaller island nearby, where we could see the lemurs for which Madagascar is famous. We did see one variety that is very small, perhaps weighing a couple of pounds. The villagers were thrilled to have visitors, which only occurs a few times a year. The children are let out of school, and they sing and dance to entertain (and request a 'local donation'). I was relieved that there were no accidents in the loading and unloading of the small boats that took us back and forth to the small island. Madagascar is a huge island. I wish Princess would try to develop another port of call somewhere on the island. Three more days at sea before we arrived in Durban, which is quite a lovely city! We did the Princess tour to 'Land of the Thousand Hills', taking us through some beautiful countryside, and ending at a Zulu tribal village where we saw a well done Zulu show, shopped in a nice (and huge) souvenir store, and toured a reptile farm (shudder). At the Durban ship terminal at least 100 vendors set up stalls, selling good quality handicrafts. The prices were much lower than found in the stores. The Zulu bead work is beautiful. In Durban about 100 passengers disembarked for an overnight at a luxury game camp. We picked them up the next day when we called on Port Elizabeth, where there is absolutely nothing to offer tourists. Someone suggested that the only reason we stopped there was to pick up the group who went to the game camp. I think that's probably correct. We took the shuttle bus ($5 each way) to the local mall, which went through downtown but didn't stop. It was a nice enough mall, but not worth the trip. Finally we arrived in Cape Town on our 31st day, and over-nighted on the ship there. Before leaving home we had purchased tickets online for Robben Island and for the Table Mountain tram for those two days. We docked right downtown, at the Victoria and Alfred (not Albert) Waterfront. What a great location! The first day was spoiled a bit by a downpour, put we visited the Slavery Museum, which was excellent, had lunch and spent the last afternoon packing. The museum included an exhibit about the life of Nelson Mandela. We were planning to stay another week in South Africa, so we bought two-day Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) bus tickets. The next day brought sunny skies, so we took the HOHO bus to the Kirstenbosch Gardens, which are fabulous, if you like gardens and really wonderful native sculpture. Our next stop on the bus was the Cable Car for Table Mountain, which was totally clear. Another 'don't miss' experience. We continued on the bus to Camps Bay, a sophisticated suburb on the water where we had a delightful alfresco lunch. We spent three nights at a private game reserve, Sanbona, which is about three hours East of Cape Town, in the Little Karoo area. We hired someone to ferry us back and forth since they drive on the other side of the road in S. Africa, and we didn't really need a car. It was a wonderful experience, and quite different from other game experiences in East Africa. The high points of the cruise were 1) the crew and 2) the other passengers. The crew seemed to work very well together, and were always helpful and good natured, although several of them expressed an interest in working on a larger ship, where I'm sure they make more money in tips. The other passengers were extremely well traveled, both in cruising and in land touring. It was always fun and usually educational to sit at breakfast or lunch with almost all of them. What didn't work? On the small ships there is not an option for anytime dining. One must pick first of second seating, and we had chosen second seating because we like time to shower, change and have a drink before dinner. There were 530 people on board, with a ship capacity of about 680. Apparently there were a lot of cancellations, since at one time the ship was supposed to have been fully booked. So our party of three was at a table for six, but there were no other guests at our table, and there were several partially filled or even empty tables in the dining room. I do love my husband and our friend, but dinner would have been much more fun if we had had someone with whom to discuss our day's highlights. Perhaps the moral is to choose early seating, when there are lots of sea days. The food was mediocre, although always beautifully presented. We attended a Chef's demonstration early in the cruise where he emphasized that he had 32 entirely different menus. And there were! But it's difficult to successfully duplicate a national cuisine for 530 people in two groups. For example, the Greek dishes tasted similar to Greek food in Greece or even US restaurants, but not the same and not as tasty and fresh. Maybe it's because they have to provision far in advance, and freeze a lot of the food. Maybe it's because they modify the seasonings for the audience they serve. But it generally wasn't very tasty or interesting, in the opinion of many passengers. They do a good job of getting the food to the tables while it's hot. The waiters and the kitchen staff have a well developed system that works very well. They rely on pre-packaged products. The coffee in the Horizons Buffet is nearly undrinkable. It's made from a syrup, rather than brewed. Some passengers figured out that they could use their coffee cards at the coffee counter up there for brewed coffee, and they weren't charged. Iced tea was also made from a syrup, and was so strong it was undrinkable, even after diluting it by 50% with water. One lady solved that problem by ordering a pot of hot tea and three glasses of ice with most meals! It seemed to us that Princess has cut so many corners to remain profitable that they have changed the nature of their product. It felt more like a Carnival cruise or an NCL cruise. We've sailed with Princess many times, and may sail with them again. But we were disappointed with this one. It just didn't meet our expectations. We had a nice time, but it wasn't a wonderful experience, as you want all of your vacations to be. We've booked our next cruise on Oceania, and are looking forward to comparing the two cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Preliminaries We took a midnight flyer out of LAX to Bangkok on Cathay Pacific (we used AA miles for business class). It was 15 hours of air time to Hong Kong but it was "heaven" because of the flat bed seats and the superior ... Read More
Preliminaries We took a midnight flyer out of LAX to Bangkok on Cathay Pacific (we used AA miles for business class). It was 15 hours of air time to Hong Kong but it was "heaven" because of the flat bed seats and the superior Cathay Pacific service—the best I have ever experienced in 50 years of flying. After a short layover it was three hours to Bangkok where we negotiated with a Limo service at the airport for transfer to Laem Chabang. For 2300 Bhat ($71) we took the 1½ hour ride to the port in comfort. We carry our own medium size roller bags on the ship and the whole embarkation process took 30 minutes. My wife Vonne and I are seasoned travelers as this was my 27th cruise (Vonne's 24th) and I have now visited 94 countries and Vonne 90 We are 67 and 59 and are still very independent travelers. The Good The Ocean Princess is one of the old Renaissance ships that have been bought up by Princess, Oceana, Azamara and maybe one other line. They all hold around 675 Passengers and are an ideal size to travel the world. This is our 5th cruise on one of these ships and we have been on this one before when it was the Tahitian Princess doing 10 day cruises through the Society Islands and alternating the Cook Islands with the Marquesas in the South Pacific. Three months ago we were on another former Renaissance ship the Azamara Journey for 12 nights around the Tyrhennian Sea. Since the two cruises were so close together on the same Renaissance type ship it is only natural to compare the two experiences. You would be hard pressed to find a more interesting itinerary than what Princess put together for this 16 night journey through Southeast and East Asia. With days at sea alternating with port days it was an ideal way to sample Asia. The stops included Ko Samui (island in southern Thailand), Singapore, Phu Mai & Danang in Vietnam, Hong Kong (2 days & 1 night), Keelung (Taiwan), Okinawa, & Shanghai. Food Our dinner companions for the late or 8:15 sitting were two British married couples, who each came from different parts of the UK, and two single ladies from Canada. We had a wonderful group and were often the last table to leave the dining room. Thank you John and Angie, Rob and Pat, and Helen and Jean for making our dinners so enjoyable and for especially trying to teach me the rules of cricket. As with most cruises there is enough variety of food to satisfy most palettes. Overall I would have to rate the food basically good but uneven. Some good, some bad, much of it so-so. We usually ate breakfast and lunch in the dining room when we had days at sea and breakfast in the Panorama buffet on port days. Lunch was ashore on port days and we normally packed two sandwiches with cold cuts at breakfast to eat for lunch on our port days. Breakfast in the dining room was a nice experience but the menu was very limited. Lunch in the dining room was quite good at times as not many passengers ate there and the cooked to order food could be very tasty. I found that the fish cooked at lunch (I had excellent perch and trout dishes) was much better that the fish cooked for dinner. One real standout for both lunch and dinner was the salads. The selection of greens was first rate, and the blue cheese dressing was not only different than what you usually get, it was very tasty. My wife really liked the honey-mustard dressing as well. One feature that the Ocean Princess introduced is the Bistro dining option for dinner on days at sea. The normal buffet still operated on port days but on days at sea and especially the three formal nights you could eat in the buffet but it was set up as a dining room with white tablecloths, servers, and all the amenities of the dining room with food cooked to order and served. For the first time we did not drag our coat and tie and dress shoes and fancy dresses to a cruise that had formal nights. Without that unnecessary baggage we were still able to dine in the Bistro in our "smart casual" clothes and had a wonderful dining experience. My salmon filet was cooked just right and was as good a piece of fish as any that we had on the cruise. The Bistro has three different menus, A, B, and C that alternate. Cabin Our cabin in "steerage" as we like to call it on lower deck 3 was fine. Lots of room for everything and except for the shower being a little tight it worked out OK. There are a couple of things wrong with it that (see "The Bad) could easily be fixed. We hit some weather going to Taiwan and the ship was rocking and rolling and the lower deck is a smoother ride. The crew would come around and close our porthole but I would open it up. I did leave it closed one night when the ship was rocking in heavy seas. The one disadvantage to deck 3 was you could not walk to the gangway on port days (located on deck 3). You had to go up to deck 4 and over and then down to 3. Ports of Call Ko Samuii is a terrific resort island and we took the first tender ashore, bargained for a taxi, got a new one, and the driver took us to a number of stops around the island including one for an elephant ride, the famous grandpa (phallic) and grandma (vagina) rock formations, the main tourist beach and other sites. It was 2000 Bhat ($60) well spent. Singapore is the great entrepot of Asia and we had stayed here before so we kept our journey simple. It was typical Singapore weather, hot and humid and we rode a hop on hop off bus around twice to see the changes from our last visit. The new building is unbelievable. It was a cheap way to see the sights in comfort (great AC) and a front view seat. Finally, we stopped at the free botanical gardens and toured that area including the Orchid garden that had a small fee to enter with a great senior discount. Hong Kong was new to us and we had two full days. Sadly, the weather did not cooperate for both days were cool and blustery. On day 1 we did too much. First the ferry to Hong Kong island (as a senior I rode free and Vonne was $3 HK or about 45 cents and then the bus to famed Stanley Market. We almost never shop but we actually bought a couple of gift items. The market was OK but nothing unusual and nothing like some of the markets we have seen around the world in Istanbul and Tunis etc. Next, another bus to Aberdeen to see the Sampans and the fish market. Another bus to the central station where we took the MRT to Tung Yee to ride the famed 3 mile cable car. I will let my wife Vonne take over from here: Off we go to Lantau to take the Ngong Ping skyway cable car ride over the city, a hike to see a giant Buddha, and take the skyway back. We pay a bit more for the "crystal" cable car with a glass bottom (I'm thinking —so you can see the ground approach as you plummet 2000 feet straight down if the cable breaks). It starts out OK—fine and dandy— We see a forest of green trees below as we ascend the tops of the mountain peaks. We glide over the ocean and see miles of beautiful scenery all around (and below us). We can see the cable car in front and behind us, and the ones returning. We wave to each other and smile. Suddenly, it starts to get colder and the car begins to rock in a strong wind. We ascend into a mist that fast becomes a cloud. We are a cloud. No cable car in front or back. No ocean beneath. Look out the windows and through the glass bottom— solid cloud. It gets even colder. All I have is a weenie, light-weight, cotton zip-up; and Tom has only a light nylon jacket. I realize that if the cable breaks, we will not see the ground through the glass bottom as we plummet to the ground. We both are COLD, and we can't see anything— but we keep moving along in the cloud for about a half an hour, and get off in a misty, cold, windy village called Ngong Ping 360. Out we go to see if we can make it to the Big Buddha— NOT! Too much wind and swirling mist/rain — and not enough visibility. Tom spots a Starbuck's but we opt instead to duck into the Zen Noodle Cafe for some warmth and nourishment before undertaking the return trip back. The Zen Noodle Cafe is small and open to the elements in front, but there are tables tucked inside where it is warm. We share a big bowl of chicken noodle soup and it hits the spot. They also bring us two mugs of plain hot water. Watching others, we see them drinking it (as opposed to adding it to the soup), and we do the same. After another potty stop we brave the wind-chill and make way to return down the mountain; but the weather is so bad, they close the ride and refund the return fare down. What to do? We find a bus back to the MRT and run to board it just in the nick of time. Oh— and you have to have exact fare for the driver because he does not make change, but keeps the difference! Good thing for the coins we received at the Chinese Noodle Soup place! Taking the bus down the mountain, across the valley, and up the next mountain is more scenic than the cable car going up. We see the stuff we missed from the cable car when we were in a cloud. To get back to the ship we take the MRT back to Central Station then to the Star Ferry, and back to Cruise Harbor. It has been a long 8 hours of trekking and maneuvering, and it is again good to be back on ship to a comfortable room and a good meal. We are so stiff and sore the next day in Hong Kong from the labors of the previous day that we do not do much in the rainy weather. Vonne stays on the ship to heal and I take a two hour walk of the basic shopping areas of Kowloon and I am not a shopper. Just more expensive stuff as far as I am concerned and I can usually get better deals in the U.S. Who buys all this "crap" anyway? Ships Tours As fierce independent travelers we usually do not take ship's tours but go off on our own. We broke our rule this time and went on three ship's tours. They cost about twice what we usually spend when we go ashore independently but they are convenient. The first was a 2 & ½ hour ride to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) from Phu Mai where the ship was docked. This was an adequate tour but was marred (see bad) by a long shopping stop. The other two were much better. A 1 & ½ hour ride to Hue from our port near Da Nang. We had a very nice guide and saw all the historic sites in the Imperial city. The final one was on Taiwan and very pricey at $159 each. With bad weather marring the view the trip to the mineral springs at the Paradise hotel started out as a disaster. The following is my wife Vonne's report on this stop and the ship's tour: This morning we docked in Keelung, Taiwan and it was raining 12°C (53.6°F). We were signed up for a tour to some outdoor mineral spas, and I had misgivings about the whole thing, but it turned out to be really super For starts in celebration of the Tet, Taiwanese greeters gave us each a red envelope and greeting card with a good luck coin inside. Red is the Chinese good luck color, and parents traditionally give good luck money to their kids on Tet morning. We took a bus ride in bad weather for about an hour to the mineral springs at the Paradise resort hotel. Before using the baths we had to change into our swim wear and put on a silly shower cap. Then we hustled outside in the cold mist/rain and made our way along a couple of football fields to about 12 stone mineral baths. The mineral water smelled a bit like sulfur and the outdoor baths varied from 20 to 40°C. Each of them offered different types of pressurized water massage. There were pipes having openings the size of large garden hoses on the sides of the walls and down inside the pools with different amounts of pulsating, pressurized water coming out of them. All we had to do was position ourselves in the right place to get a great water massage. We spent about an hour & ½ at the pools and then joined locals for a Tet lunch buffet in the hotel. On the way back we put on rain gear and had an easy hike by the sea on a rock area that had been shaped and eroded by the force of ocean waves over thousands of years. The water had worn away the sides of large rocks and boulders and made them into bizarre sculptures. One in particular was shaped like ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertitti's head. It was about 15 feet tall, and we all stopped to get a photo standing by the sculpture. After walking through a very interesting market we returned to the coach and back to the ship. Our final ship's tour was on the last day in Shanghai. As our flight left at 6:00 PM we needed to kill most of the day. To Princess's credit they arranged for a half day tour of Shanghai to the Jade Temple, a tea ceremony, Yu Gardens, and walk along the east side of the river to see the Bund from a distance. It was quite enjoyable and it ended at the airport as they dropped the 14 of us off for our flights. This tour was a bargain at $49 each and did not include the usual lunch stop. We had packed sandwiches at lunch so we were fine. Our flight home on AA included 14 hours to Chicago and 4.5 hours back to LAX. It was long but uneventful and certainly not Cathay Pacific quality but it was OK. The Bad In order to compete with other lines Princess will have to step up its customer relations. For example, when we boarded no one paid any attention to us: no welcoming drink, no help with bags leading to our room, no directions to our room. This is a small thing but it sets the tone. The ship is supposed to have been refurbished but it shows some wear. One of the Jacuzzis is badly scarred and the wood decking is deteriorating. One thing we noticed is that you almost never saw anyone doing maintenance. Compared to the Azamara Journey in which the crew was constantly doing maintenance, this was surprising. Although much of the food gets high marks there was one thing I could not understand. A high point of the dining experience for me is the veal and lamb dishes. On most cruises, a veal or lamb dish is one of the choices almost every night. For some reason the Ocean Princess did not serve veal until the 5th night and lamb the 6th. We always had beef, chicken, fish, and vegetarian dishes but veal and lamb were scarce. This is one sign of the cutback in food quality that the Princess is practicing. After that, except for a lamb stew once, lamb or veal seldom appeared on the menu. We finally got lamb in the dining room on day 11 and veal on day 12—delicious, but a bit late. On days at sea we usually ate breakfast in the dining room and the food was fine but there was a very limited menu. For example, no corned beef hash or French toast, two of my favorites. The breakfast buffet had a much wider selection and was typical buffet food. There were often log jams because of the placement of certain food items like the butter. At the omelette station the main cook had his fire too hot and would cremate half the omlette even if you asked for it soft in the French style. It would be half burnt and half raw. Maybe he was new at it but he could not get the knack. One day there was a replacement cook and he cooked it just fine. In days at sea we usually ate breakfast in the dining room. They said they had bran muffins on the menu but when we asked for them they always said they did not have them. When we asked the Maitre de he said he would get them for us and he did after a 10 minute wait. One morning I just went up to the buffet to get the bran muffins and bring them to the dining room. It seemed odd that they had a pastry tray full of donuts, croissants, Danish and other pastries but no bran muffins. We asked why the could not make a few less donuts and a few more bran muffins but we did not get a satisfactory answer. We could get along without the bran muffins but it seemed odd to have them on the menu and not be able to deliver them. One thing that bothered our dinner table mates who drink wine with dinner. For the first 6 nights they ordered a wine off the menu that cost $22. On the 7th night they were informed that the wine they had been drinking was no longer available but they could substitute a different wine that was similar for more money ($26 a bottle). They felt, and I concur that the substitute wine should have been offered at the same price as the original wine. It seemed "tacky" to charge them more when it was the ship that was at fault for not having an adequate supply of the wine listed on the wine list. The ship daily bulletin called the "Princess Patter" was poorly organized and composed. For some reason it did not include the eating hours for the restaurant or the buffet. When I asked about this their answer was that it had been included in the first day's bulletin but not subsequent days. There is also a large blue book in each cabin that contained information about the ship but nothing on the dining hours. Finally, the front desk sent me a card that listed the dining hours. The card should have been in the Blue Book in everyone's room. The "Patter" seemed to be more concerned with its advertisement's for the spa, bingo, casino etc. than providing information to the passengers. For a 16 day cruise there were no news bulletins delivered to our staterooms. This is quite unusual and is just another example of Princess's "pinching pennies" which results in a decline of service. On one of our ships tours to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) the guide gave us only two minutes to take one outside photo of the Rex hotel in order to preserve a full 40 minutes for a shopping stop at a lacquer factory and showroom. After 5 minutes we had seen enough and there was nothing else to do in that downtrodden neighborhood. As I cooled my heels waiting for the shopping to end I thought about how some of these minutes could have been used to allow us to see the lobby of the Rex. This is one of the problems of ship's tours the obligatory "shopping stop" that always overrules all other considerations. This is the one ship's tour that I would have to rate as unsuccessful. The general decline in service that almost all cruise lines have suffered from since the advent of automatic tipping about 10 years ago continued. It is not so much that it is so bad as it is the indifference since the automatic tipping. The experience is not the same. In all of our cruises over the last 10 years the only one where the service was as good as the pre-automatic tipping era was the Azamara Journey The Ugly On day two my wife arranged to buy $100 worth of minutes on the internet. We wasted 36 minutes trying to send one E-mail that failed. The next morning we tried to get some clarification on how to do this from the internet person and we asked her to restore the 36 minutes we had lost the day before. She restored 6 minutes to our account so we were out 36 minutes (about $15 worth). Not only did her attitude stink, but we felt she should have restored the whole 36 minutes instead of being argumentative and combative. We spent over $7000 to Princess on this cruise and we are being chiseled out of $15 of internet time. It makes no sense and shows a lack of supervision of staff by management. The self-washing situation could have been a worse disaster than it was except for the forbearance of the passengers who organized the process. Four dryers and four washing machines were available but two of the dryers were almost always broke to cause a huge backlog in the drying process. If the Ocean Princess is going to roam the seas with 30 day cruises it needs to create a 2nd laundry room and make sure the dryers are maintained and working at all times. Most passengers had to spend at least a half a day to do their laundry, hanging out in the laundry that was like a sauna and some had to wait until the next day to have their clothes dried after washing them. My wife tried to rectify the situation by going through the front desk and talked to Adrian and her supervisor Randall. After about 30 minutes and sticking to her guns she got Tony to come down to the laundry room. He saw how bad the situation was with 25 passengers milling about trying to dry their clothes. He brought two guys from the laundry room to bag up the wet clothes of about 8 passengers who were waiting for the dryer. They took them to the ship's laundry to dry them and returned them to our rooms later in the day. If Princess is going to offer 30 day cruises as this was, they need to have more than 2 dryers working. They need to create a separate washing room with more dryers than washers (drying takes 45 minutes and washing takes 30 minutes. This is another example of the "higher ups" not thinking. Smoke often wafted into our room and we would go to the dining room often smelling of smoke. We told the front desk about this problem but they said they could do nothing about it because Princess policy allowed passengers to smoke in their rooms. 16 days of smelling smoke was a long trip. I don't remember a ship allowing smoking in the rooms for at least the last 10 years. When we were on this ship in 2003, I don't remember smoke being a problem but we could have been in a section of the ship that was non- smoking or that people were not smoking. Princess better adopt a no smoking in the rooms policy fast as other lines have done or they will lose lots of business. There was also a problem in the 4 shady areas around the pool. Smoking was only supposed to be allowed in two of these but frequently the smokers occupied all 4 areas. Non-smokers who wanted to sit in the pool area in the shade were out of luck and had to endure the smoke. The initial show of the ship's singers and dancers was so bad we walked out. It was a tribute to Motown and they could not pull it off. It was embarrassing. The last day they did two shows that were a tribute to travel (Ports of Call) and Cinema. These were actually good but the Mowtown experience overshadowed everything. I am not sure we would book Princess again unless the price and itinerary were out of this world. There is no comparison to the Azamara Journey, the same ship but a much superior operation. Princess higher ups need to take a cruise on the Journey to see how it should be done. In the competitive cruising industry Princess should do better. They did better when we first cruised the Tahitian Princess in 2003. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We just complete the Tahitian Princess June 19th Land of the Midnight Sun cruise from Dover to Dover. Ports included Stavenger, Tromso, Svalbard - cruising Magdalena Fjord and stopping in Ny Alesund, Honningsvag, Murmansk, Gravdal, ... Read More
We just complete the Tahitian Princess June 19th Land of the Midnight Sun cruise from Dover to Dover. Ports included Stavenger, Tromso, Svalbard - cruising Magdalena Fjord and stopping in Ny Alesund, Honningsvag, Murmansk, Gravdal, Trondheim, Geiranger, Bergen. The cruise was a total of 18 days. We changed our clock a total of 3 hours forward and got the 3 hours back returning to Dover. We are frequent cruisers and have cruised on Princess a total of 5 times, mostly on ships like the Crown and the Emerald. This was our first time on one of the Princess smaller ships. We are in our 60s and the age of passengers on this cruise skewed older than we. There were 3 children on the cruise. We had early dining at a table for 6, with amiable dinner companions. The makeup of passengers was about 40% British, 40% American and the rest Canadian, Australian and other nationalities. We flew to London and spent one night there. We took the train from Charing Cross right to Dover Priory. A short 7 pound taxi ride took us to the dock by 11 am. The Dover boarding area is fabulous and the people there were so friendly and accommodating.  We boarded shortly after noon and went directly to our cabin, a port oceanview on deck 4.  We checked at the front desk for any upgrades available (including paid ones), but they said they were fully booked. We found the location of the cabin to be good during the high seas we experience on the way to Svalbard. Although we felt the seas, it was not much at all and would book a midship oceanview again. (We found out later that a number of passengers were upgraded, including a cruiser who was moved from an inside to a balcony, gratis). The cabin was small but adequate.  The bathroom was acceptable, but had one of those small showers with curtains that can be uncomfortable.  We had filled out the cruise personalizer and also had our travel agent fax Princess asking for bathrobes, egg crate and Coke in the room. None of those items was there and when we finally found our steward just before 5 pm, we asked him to bring them.  The bathrobes and egg crate did show up, the Cokes never did.   The room had adequate storage for all our clothes. We used the safe for our valuables. We did have a problem in that the bedding was very old and stained. The sheets and duvets were actually coming apart in several places.  We asked the steward to replace them.  The sheets were changed mid-cruise but the torn duvet stayed on the bed.  Also, the carpet in the room had significant staining and our couch was very dirty with crumbs, stains and signs of wear. You could smell cigarette smoke.  We were told by the steward there was nothing he could do. He did eventually put deodorizer in the room and the cigarette smell was better. We met another couple who actually refused to move into their 7th deck balcony until all the soft goods in the room, including the drapes were removed and replaced to eliminate the smell of smoke and the ripped condition of the bedding. This ship is in desperate need of drydock to replace the room furniture bedding and drapes. It is scheduled for drydock Nov. 19 and will return as the Ocean Princess. Let's hope they replace the cabin furnishings. We went to the front desk to reports these conditions and found one of the most annoying issues on the cruise. The front desk staff's attitude was totally uncaring, non-responsive and frankly rude. Other passengers also expressed frustration with trying to deal with the front desk staff. Captain Ravera was very outgoing and it was common to see him throughout the ship speaking with passengers and staff. He did an excellent job telling us about high sea conditions and what to expect. He obviously loves his "White Lady" and during the cruise of the fjords turned the ship 360 degrees under waterfalls and in the fjords to afford all the passengers a wonderful view of the scenery. Other ships officers were not visible. The tour desk and Robbie the Tour Director had lots of information on the tours itself, and he was very visible and accessible. The port lecturer Hutch gave basic information on the ports, but nothing that you couldn't read in a tour book.  We were a bit surprised that he kept saying, "I haven't been able to get that information," on a number of ports.  It was as if he had been put on the cruise at the last minute without prior preparation. This was unfortunate, as a large number of passengers wished to do ports on their own and had little information besides the published sheet for each port. We were blessed with wonderful weather on this trip. The sun shone and the temperature was in the 60s many days, with the exception of the Arctic circle where it was cooler, but not cold. The ports themselves were interesting and provided a great contrast of the geography in that area of the world.  The mountains, waterfalls and fjords in the Geiranger area are among the most beautiful in the world. These contrasted to the stark dark mountains and snow in Svalbard.  The cruise in Magdalena Fjord on Svalbard was very interesting and began in a foggy mist and ended with peaking sun.  The temperature in the area hovered around 32 degrees.  When we docked in Ny Alesund on Svalbard, it was snowing lightly and 32 degrees. This is a research station with about 30 people living there in the winter, and 120 in the summer months.  We had to stay on the marked roads which were very close in the little village, because of the threat of polar bears.  There were men armed with rifles accompanying us during our few hours on shore.  We found out that less than 10% of the population of the world has visited this site and that 4 times as many people visit Antarctica as visit here. We felt very special to be able to experience this interesting place.  Unfortunately, we saw no polar bears, but did see a whale and reindeer. The arctic terns were nesting and dive-bombed anyone approaching too closely.  There is a small souvenir shop and a post office in Ny Alesund, both of which were mobbed by passengers looking for a memento of their visit.  Murmansk, Russia presented quite a contrast to the other areas.  First of all, a Visa was required to visit the city but if you were on a ship excursion, it was included.  This required a great deal of paperwork and coordination by the ship's staff, which was appreciated.  However, after the ship was cleared, the return of passports to the passengers became a free-for-all,  uncontrolled by the purser or anyone else.  Murmansk has 16 days of sun in a year.  We were fortunate to have a bright sunny day about 65 degrees. Murmansk is a gray barrack-like city which is the center of Russian submarine activity. Unfortunately, the tour guides were not allowed to speak of that aspect of the area.  We toured the city museum, were supposed to go to the Cathedral but there was a funeral in progress, and saw the WWII war memorial and cemetery. There was no time for shopping or other activities.  This is one city that we can say, once is enough.  Been there done that. One of our most favorite stops was Honningsvag where one can visit the North Cape, the most Northern place on the European continent.  Passengers also could take a boat trip on a birding excursion which we heard was also very good, or a trip overland to a gallery and Christmas shop. Gravdal, Lofoten Islands was probably the most beautiful place and a surprise to most everyone.  This is a "don't miss' spot if you are doing the Norway cruise.  The water, beautiful small fishing villages, mountains and waterfalls are awe-inspiring and picture postcard gorgeous.  We truly enjoyed this port. Bergen was also great with lots of energy and a wonderful fish market and Bryggen old town area.  We did most of the ports on our own with the exception of Murmansk, and found it easy to do after reading good tour books and doing computer research. The inconvenient part of the cruise was the timing of when we made ports.  Unfortunately, Stavenger, Honningsvag and Bergen all were ports on a Sunday and most of the shops and some sites were closed.  As for the ship itself, we found we truly enjoyed the smaller sized ship and would definitely prefer to cruise this sized ship over the larger ones. It is a stable ship and handled the seas well.  We found the lounge entertainment of the duos and piano player very good.  The evening shows we attended were good, not great, but the singers and dancers really tried. If you like big production shows, this is not the ship for you. To be honest, food was a real issue.  The breakfast buffet was good and we have no complaints.  However, lunch in the Panorama buffet was chaos. Because the weather was nice but not warm, many people wanted to sit inside. There simply is not enough space in the seating area of the Panorama to accommodate the number of passengers.  There was no attempt by the staff to help people find seats and there actually were people standing up eating their meals. Also, some excursions returned after 2 pm and we found that the buffet often was shut down early with nothing to eat.  Food in the dining room was adequate, but there was a constant problem with overcooked meat. We and our tablemates had to return food a number of times because although ordered medium rare, it was well done. The three times we ordered fish, it was soggy (with the exception of the fish and chips at lunch which was excellent). This has to end up being really expensive to Princess and they must be able to come up with something better.  We ended up ordering a lot of Caesar salad and fettucini alfredo, the "always available" foods. The chicken dishes were good. Our waiter did the best he could and was very pleasant. Head waiters Nello and Mauro were great also. The real problem was the specialty restaurants. We always look forward to dinner at Sabatini's.  It has been one of our favorite treats. However, we found the dinner there to be, frankly, awful.  The menu is entirely different on this ship than on the big ships like the Crown and Emerald.  The antipasto is ok, but the pasta course is no where near the quality of the other times we ate at Sabatini's.  The main course was a disaster. Both of our entrees were terribly overcooked. They serve pizza like in the buffet for a course.  The desserts were ok.  The restaurant was basically empty. Service was ok. The steakhouse was the same.  The menu is not at all the one on the other ships.  The appetizers are quesadillas, etc. The meat again was seriously overcooked - rib eyes. They do not have the chocolate molten cake. We were very disappointed and would not do them again with these menus.  Service was ok. Internet service actually was better than we expected.  There was outage while we were deep in the fjords and in Svalbard and outside of Murmansk, but good reception otherwise. WIFI worked well in the room when service was available. Cell phones also worked well most of the time, except in the Arctic area and Murmansk. Andrea in the Internet area is absolutely super helpful and cheerful.  She was a real asset to have onboard. Disembarkation went smoothly and we were off the ship by 8:30 am and off to Heathrow by train.   Things we liked: The club-like feeling of the Tahitian Princess Captain Ravera The library space Ice cream in the buffet The Ports The mix of nationalities onboard Speaker Captain Wells who talked on naval issues The Midnight Sun which made days seem longer   Things we did not like: Soft goods in room needed cleaning Food in the specialty restaurants Sunday ports and short afternoon only port visits Smell of smoke in common areas and halls Lack of other lectures on history of area Art auction taking up most of the Lounge and blocking views   One other point.  Our cruise was June 19th to July 7th.  This is about as early as one would want to do this cruise, because of the weather and the viewing of wildlife such as polar bears, seals, whales, etc.  The seas were high going up to Svalbard when we went. While we had good weather, reviews and posting of earlier sailings on other cruiselines talked about rain, bad weather and higher seas. Sailings this date and beyond would seem to be optimal. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
We have very mixed reviews about this cruise. First, the embarkation went smoothly and quickly. It's just a short $30 cab ride to and from the airport to the port. Cabs are all over the place in Papeete (the city is congested and ... Read More
We have very mixed reviews about this cruise. First, the embarkation went smoothly and quickly. It's just a short $30 cab ride to and from the airport to the port. Cabs are all over the place in Papeete (the city is congested and dirty). Once on-board, we waited only 2 hours for our room to be ready. We like the decor of the ship (the library is very cozy). Gives you the feeling of old world travel with rich woods and warm furnishings. Our balcony mini-suite was clean, tastefully decorated and very spacious compared to other cruises we have been on. Beds are very comfortable and LOT'S of nice bed pillows (a nice touch). The balcony dividers had many large gaps between panels so balcony's were not very private. We had an 8th floor cabin (highly recommended). Note that there is only ONE laundry room on the 7th floor on this ship for 500 passengers, so the laundry room was always full and difficult to just spontaneously toss a load of laundry in. Also, the irons and boards were not convenient and an iron stained a new shirt (did not make us happy). The crew and staff were very friendly and helpful, and our cabin steward Ramon was top notch. Now comes the bad part: the drinks and food were terrible. All of the guests we spoke with said the food was the worst they have ever had on a cruise and we concur. One elderly woman compared the food on this ship to what is served in an old folks home. The bartenders simply could not make a drink as requested. The culinary and beverage experience was dreadful. Whenever we could, we ate off-ship (and had some of the best meals we have ever had). In fact, we actually LOST weight on this cruise and that was without ever hitting the gym!!! The main dining room food was the worst with each meal a disappointment. The Steak House was better and recommended, however, still not a culinary experience. The Italian dinners were fairly good also. Typical Princess fare. If you plan to go on this cruise, don't go for the food! The ports were good but could be planned a little better. We have heard that there are weather and seas challenges with Raratonga (Cook Islands) and we experienced similar, although we did get to see the island. It would have been nice to spend more time on other islands such as Moorea or Bora Bora and skip Raratonga. We took a 4x4 excursion on Papeete...a MAJOR disappointment. We saw nothing of interest and ended up spending the greater part of that tour sitting in the back of a Jeep smelling exhaust fumes and baking in the heat while stuck in traffic (Papeete is a dirty, congested town). Would not recommend this excursion. Would recommend the motu lunch in Huahine. Lot's of fun having lunch in the water. Would also highly recommend the Aqua Safari on Bora Bora but be warned, if you are claustrophobic you will not do well. Took other excursions which were uneventful. Would highly recommend to rent a car once off the boat and do your own thing. Cars can be expensive ($60+ a day plus gas) but no more expensive than the cost of an excursion, and you have the freedom to roam the islands and explore at your leisure. ICH Hotel in Papeete is an excellent place to stay before or after your cruise for a day or two. We spent 4 nights at the Moorea Pearl...it was wonderful. Remember that Tahiti is VERY expensive once off the boat. Also, cash machines and credit card machines were very unreliable. We ran out of cash and could find no ATM's that would work. One night at dinner in Moorea the credit card machines were not working properly. This just wasn't a problem for us but for many others visiting as well. We blew through $800 US cash in 4 days and on what I'll never know (water, food, small souvenirs..nothing extravagant!!!!). Buy your pearls at Woody's on Moorea. Excellent prices and great experience. Snorkeling is best in Moorea (public beach near Sofital Hotel) and Bora Bora (public beach near the ICH Hotel). Excellent prices on Vanilla beans. They're everywhere. The BEST dinner at Honu Ito on Moorea...this is a must experience on the water with the BEST food anywhere and watch the owner hand feed the Stingray's!!! Bloody Mary's on Bora Bora is over hyped, but the food was at least better than on the boat! Overall, we'd recommend instead of taking this cruise to simply book hotels and cars on Moorea and Bora Bora on your own. 4-5 days on each island and you have a great experience of Tahiti. Read Less
Sail Date February 2007
I found this website very helpful while planning my Honeymoon. Some of the information was not as accurate as I had hoped so I wanted to clarify a few details. A quick read through the list of reviews will give anyone a good idea of what ... Read More
I found this website very helpful while planning my Honeymoon. Some of the information was not as accurate as I had hoped so I wanted to clarify a few details. A quick read through the list of reviews will give anyone a good idea of what to expect from this cruise. However, the reader will need a point of reference to judge the subjective opinion of the cruiser. I found it important to look at how many cruises & what cruise lines the review writer has been on. For my wife and I, this honeymoon cruise was our 5th. We have been on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Disney & Carnival. I read that many reviews mentioned that the staterooms were "big". My wife & I had a Balcony room & found this to be absolutely not true! The rooms are no bigger or smaller than any other Balcony room we have stayed in. We normally upgrade to a Balcony but not a suite when we cruise so I feel that our opinion is more accurate because we always get the same category of room. The food was no better, and if anything, our least favorite of all the cruises we have been on. There was not one meal that we thought was any better than basic cafeteria food. We ate at every possible location for every meal to "try" everything. The bread and baked goods were fine but tasted like "day old". The Pizza and Hamburgers were bland. Even the Ice cream tasted "cheep"! But, the biggest (scam, frustration, business decision ... I can't decide on the adjective!) were the drinks. I may be exaggerating but I felt like I had a choice of Water, Orange juice, Cranberry juice, coffee or tea - only during meals & then only Water, Coffee & Tea outside of meal hours. I bought the "coke" card. I got the smallest glass, filled with ice and a tablespoon of coke in it. I asked for a can. A can is not included in the "Coke Card" deal. I would have to stand at the bar asking for a refill nonstop for an hour to get the equivalent of a can of coke. I did not want to give up that much time re-filling my glass so I bought a can. The coffee on the other hand is the worst I have ever tasted! Never hot and always terrible! It did not matter if it was morning noon or night the coffee was consistently horrible! If I walked around the corner to the coffee bar & purchased a coffee; that tasted great! We ate at the "specialty" restaurants (where you have to pay a basic fee per person - I can't remember... maybe $20 per person?) and found that the food was marginally better, kind of like the quality of a good Denny's. Nothing wrong with the food or the service just not memorable. My wife & I coined a new "catch phrase" while on this cruise... When we get up a leave the table we look at each other & ask ... was that worth the calories?? Neither of us answered yes all cruise long! The last "issue" I had with other reviews (that I though was inaccurate) relates to the comfort of the boat. In other words how smooth the cruise was. This is a VERY subjective area because some people get motion sick very easily & others not at all! I even had debates with other cruisers during the cruise about this issue. I thought the boat (wobbled, rocked, bobbed, moved... you pick the adjective!) too much. Some of my fellow cruisers though I was being a baby! Can you imagine the conversation (debate) - "You think this is rough... you have not seen rough! The last cruise I was on...blah, blah, blah" Do you get the picture? Let's just say that the boat was rocking enough so that you could not walk down the hallway straight and when I looked at the ocean there was not a single white cap!! Every time I looked overboard; no white caps!! A beautiful smooth Ocean and yet this little boat rocks like crazy!! Glasses don't go flying of your dinner table or anything like that it is just rough enough to make a person (especially a queasy person) very uncomfortable & it got irritating! My post script (PS) "issue" is with any review that mentions money!! That is the most subjective topic of all. Tahiti is expensive!! PERIOD!! Don't go if money is tight because you won't have a good time & you will end up writing a review full off cliches & comments focusing on your interpretation of "value received for dollars spent". It is not only expensive it is ridiculously expensive at times - OK? Understand? Tahiti = expensive. This Princess cruise is the cheapest way to see where Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman holiday. I won't bother telling you that I did Marc's tour or Bruno's tour & don't miss the children of Rataia etc, etc. This board is full of that information & I found no "issue" with those recommendations. Most of them are very informative & helpful so you don't need me to repeat all that information. I want to close by saying to anyone who has not been to Tahiti (see financial comments above) that the people are great, the lagoons are like nothing you will ever see in your life & that there IS something "magical" about this place, so if you can swing it, GO! Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
STATEROOM -- Nicely furnished, and larger than expected, even if only quad cabin available, it was an inside one. No matter! Nice one with enough storage space for 2 adults and two kids. DINING -- More than adequate without ... Read More
STATEROOM -- Nicely furnished, and larger than expected, even if only quad cabin available, it was an inside one. No matter! Nice one with enough storage space for 2 adults and two kids. DINING -- More than adequate without "brio" regarding the main restaurant (furthermore, the only place on this ship where kids were entertained as kids with special sets and menus). Just adequate regarding the "Buffet". ACTIVITIES -- Just a few, and even with a stop cancelled due to bad weather (Rangiroa) no alternatives scheduled by cruise director on the extra day at sea! CHILDREN'S CLUB -- Absolutely none (and I am not sure that kids and teens were under the fatidic number of "20" on this specific sailing). No effort made for kids and even with an extra day at sea and bad weather closing swimming pool for two days, no substitution activities (no kids videos available on board?). To conclude the worst we experienced with kids. SERVICE -- Ok but with an absolute lack of "finesse"... SHORE EXCURSIONS -- We found better by ourselves and overall much less expansive. If you travel this ship, do not hesitate to make your own excursion shopping in ports of call. Furthermore information given in the "Princess Patter" regarding availabilities at ports of call are often wrong. i.e "Bora-Bora taxis among the more expansive in the world....that's why we went around the island , four of us) for just a mere 50 USD (3hours) to compare with 12O by the company bus!!and we saw a lot more. DISEMBARKATION -- Probably the best we experienced. The quite "free time" disembarkation is a perfect idea. SUMMARY -- Just a nice cruise, overall due to the itinerary, but to avoid if you are looking for a little bit of "finesse". And sorry for our bad "English" as we are not English speaking people.. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
Ocean Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 3.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 2.0 4.2
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 3.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.6
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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